From the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in December. Job gains occurred in healthcare, construction, and manufacturing. Although the number of jobs were lower than expected, the underlying numbers are good. The lower amount can be attributed to retail, as this is the day of the internet and on-line shopping, analysts will have to account for that in the future.
In December, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for the third consecutive month. The number of unemployed persons, at 6.6 million, was essentially unchanged over the month. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.6 percentage point and 926,000, respectively. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers declined to 13.6 percent in December, offsetting an increase in November. In December, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.8 percent), adult women (3.7 percent), Whites (3.7 percent), Blacks (6.8 percent), Asians (2.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent) showed little or no change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
Among the unemployed, the number of new entrants decreased by 116,000 in December. New entrants are unemployed persons who never previously worked. (See table A-11.)
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.5 million in December and accounted for 22.9 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 354,000. (See table A-12.)
The labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, was unchanged over the month and over the year. The employment-population ratio was unchanged at 60.1 percent in December but was up by 0.3 percentage point over the year. (See table A-1.)
So which business sectors fared well?
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in December. Job gains occurred in healthcare, construction, and manufacturing. Employment in health care increased by 31,000 in December. Employment continued to trend up in ambulatory health care services (+15,000) and hospitals (+12,000). Health care added 300,000 jobs in 2017, compared with a gain of 379,000 jobs in 2016.
Construction added 30,000 jobs in December, with most of the increase among specialty trade contractors (+24,000). In 2017, construction employment increased by 210,000, compared with a gain of 155,000 in 2016.
In December, manufacturing employment rose by 25,000, largely reflecting a gain in durable goods industries (+21,000). Manufacturing added 196,000 jobs in 2017, following little net change in 2016 (-16,000).
Employment in food services and drinking places changed little in December (+25,000). Over the year, the industry added 249,000 jobs, about in line with an increase of 276,000 in 2016.