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Labor Department Employment Situation Summary

9 Jan, 2018


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 148,000 in December, and the unemployment  rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Employment gains occurred in health care, construction, and manufacturing.

Household Survey Data

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.

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. 

Among the unemployed, the number of new entrants decreased by 116,000 in December. New

entrants are unemployed persons who never previously worked. 

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. 

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. 

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as

involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 4.9 million in December but

was down by 639,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time

employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they

were unable to find a full-time job. 

In December, 1.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about

unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals

were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job

sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not

searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. 

Among the marginally attached, there were 474,000 discouraged workers in December, little

changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers

are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available

for them. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in

December had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family

responsibilities. 

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in December. Job gains occurred in health

care, construction, and manufacturing. In 2017, payroll employment growth totaled 2.1

million, compared with a gain of 2.2 million in 2016. 

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.

In December, employment changed little in professional and business services (+19,000).

In 2017, the industry added an average of 44,000 jobs per month, in line with its

average monthly gain in 2016.

Employment in retail trade was about unchanged in December (-20,000). Within the industry,

employment in general merchandise stores declined by 27,000 over the month. Retail trade

employment edged down in 2017 (-67,000), after increasing by 203,000 in 2016.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, transportation

and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, changed little over

the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at

34.5 hours in December. In manufacturing, the workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.8

hours, while overtime remained at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and

nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.8 hours. 

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose

by 9 cents to $26.63. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or

2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory

employees increased by 7 cents to $22.30 in December. 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised down from

+244,000 to +211,000, and the change for November was revised up from +228,000 to

+252,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were

9,000 less than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports

received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and

from the recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged

204,000 over the last 3 months.

The Employment Situation for January is scheduled to be released on Friday,

February 2, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

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