BLS Employment Situation Report: December 2012
Unemployment in December remained unchanged at 7.8 percent, according to the Labor Department, while 155,000 new jobs were created. In the private sector, 168,000 new jobs were created while 13,000 government positions were lost, mostly in local education. December was the sixth month in a row of employment gains over 100,000, approximately the number needed to keep pace with population growth.
On the heels of Hurricane Sandy, residential construction employment grew by 18,100, nearly two-thirds of the 30,000 construction jobs added during the month. When holiday sales fell short of forecasts, though, clothing and clothing accessories stores trimmed their December plans and total employment in the category fell 18,700. Courier and messenger positions fell by 10,800 on a seasonal basis. Food services and drinking places added 38,000 positions, likely seeing some of the growth that retailers did not. As has been the case for much of the last several years, a larger portion of the job growth came from the healthcare sector, where 44,000 positions were created.
While the total job growth remains slow, there is increasing evidence that the quality of those jobs is improving. The number of people working part-time jobs because of economic reasons fell by 220,000 during the month. Nearly three quarters of those being jobs that were once full-time, became part-time, and now have returned to full-time status. Average weekly hours have also edged up over the last few months. In December, weekly hours increased from 34.4 to 34.5 hours.
Employment based on education during December remained largely unchanged, with those holding a bachelor's degree and higher seeing a 3.9 percent unemployment rate for the second month in a row. Unemployment among those with some college experience, but less than a four-year degree, edged up from 6.6 to 6.9 percent. That growth, though, was largely driven by an increased participation rate, rather than decreased employment.
December's employment report showed largely stable employment across industries, which is kind of a remarkable feat considering the overwhelming pundit discourse throughout the month projecting a post-fiscal cliff recession. Yet, with such a negative outlook, hiring continued, and employers utilized more of the employees they do have to meet demand.
While Washington's resolution of the fiscal cliff crisis was less than definitive, we are now moving into a new year with a more positive outlook than we have had for the last several years.« Back