Thursday, April 18, 2024

U.S. employment holds steady in December; government and healthcare sectors lead job growth

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. labor market demonstrated resilience in December, as nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000. The unemployment rate remained stable at 3.7 percent, reflecting sustained job growth in government, health care, social assistance, and construction sectors. However, the transportation and warehousing sectors experienced job losses.

December's job gains are part of a broader trend in 2023, where the average monthly increase in employment was 225,000, albeit lower than the 2022 average of 399,000. The government sector notably added 52,000 jobs, with significant contributions from local and federal levels. The healthcare sector continued its upward trajectory, adding 38,000 jobs, primarily in ambulatory healthcare services and hospitals.

In contrast, transportation and warehousing saw a decline of 23,000 jobs, with notable job losses in couriers and messengers. This sector has experienced a reduction of 100,000 jobs since its peak in October 2022. Leisure and hospitality, while showing modest gains in December, are still grappling with a shortfall from their pre-pandemic levels.

The retail trade sector remained relatively unchanged, with minor job gains in specific areas like general merchandise retailers and building material suppliers. However, department stores witnessed job losses. Professional and business services saw little change in December, with a decrease in temporary help services and modest gains in professional, scientific, and technical services.

The average hourly earnings for all employees rose by 15 cents to $34.27, marking a 4.1 percent increase over the past year. The average workweek for all employees edged down slightly to 34.3 hours.

The household survey data revealed that the unemployment rate held at 3.7 percent, with 6.3 million individuals unemployed. The long-term unemployed accounted for 19.7 percent of the total unemployed population. The labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio both experienced a marginal decrease.

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