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USA | Jan 10, 2022

US unemployment rate down to 3.9% in December 2021

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People line up outside a newly reopened career center for in-person appointments in Louisville, U.S., April 15, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Amira Karaoud/File)

The unemployment rate in the United States ticked down to 3.9 per cent in December.

This was due in part to a rise in total nonfarm payroll employment by 199,000 during the month. The job growth was spread across various industries, with notable gains in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing, in construction, and in transportation and warehousing.

Professional and business services added 43,000 jobs in December 2021. Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in December (+53,000).

Transportation and warehousing added 19,000, construction (+22,000) and manufacturing (+26,000) over the month. Additionally, employment in wholesale trade added 14,000 and mining added 7,000.

Little or no change in other major industries employment levels

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “in December, employment showed little or no change in other major industries, including retail trade, information, financial activities, health care, other services, and government.” Notably, the number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed at 812,000 in December.

The number of permanent job losers declined to 1.7 million. While the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) fell by 185,000 to 2.0 million.

Moreover, the number of unemployed persons who were jobless less than five weeks in December was 1.98 million. The labour force participation rate for December stood at 61.9 per cent, while the employment-population ratio rose to 61.9 per cent.

Nonetheless, persons employed part-time for economic reasons stood at 3.9 million in December. Based on the BLS assessment, “these individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.”

Persons not in the labour force

In December, a total of 1.6 million individuals were slightly attached to the labour force. These persons were not in the labour force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job in the last year. Of the marginally attached, 463,000 persons were classified as discouraged workers in December, little changed over the month.

These persons are not currently seeking work as they believe no jobs are available for them. The BLS is an agency of the US Department of Labor.

It is the principal fact-finding agency for the US government in the broad field of labour economics and statistics and serves as a principal agency of the Federal Statistical System.

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