The latest recruitment figures fell below expectations for December.
The Labor Department said Friday that employers slashed 199,000 jobs last month – far below economists’ expectations – and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%.
Recruitment in December was less than the revised figure for the previous month, when 249,000 jobs were added to the economy in November. The halted job growth comes as new coronavirus variants continue to sow uncertainty and threaten a post-pandemic economic recovery – although data for December was collected in the first half of the month, before Omicron’s seriousness Full range exposed.
The unemployment rate has risen compared to the pre-pandemic 3.5% seen in February 2020, indicating that reforms in the labor market are still nearly two years behind the health crisis. As of last month, employment has increased by 18.8 million jobs since April 2020, but still 3.6 million less than in February 2020.
The hiring data for December is also much lower than the 2021 average job growth, which saw 573,000 jobs per month during the previous year.
DOL said employment in the pandemic-ravaged leisure and hospitality sector (which garnered 53,000 jobs last month) continued to show an upward trend, but employment in the industry was still down by 1.2 million jobs (or 7.2%) compared to February 2020 Is.
Employment in professional and vocational services rose 43,000 jobs last month, and the manufacturing sector also saw significant job gains (where hiring increased by 26,000 in December).
Meanwhile, average hourly earnings rose 19 cents last month to $31.31 per hour. Economists have linked rising wages to the struggles that major firms have reported on hiring in recent months, and that trend has brought a new wave of workplace activism. This week, the Labor Department separately reported that a record 4.5 million workers left their jobs in November.