The U.S. economy unexpectedly saw a slowdown in hiring in December compared to November, while the unemployment rate improved to a fresh pandemic-era low.
The Labor Department released its December jobs report Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here were the main metrics from the print, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:
- Non-farm payrolls: +199,000 vs. +450,000 expected and a revised +249,000 in November
- Unemployment rate: 3.9% vs. 4.1% expected and 4.2% in November
- Average hourly earnings, month-over-month: 0.6% vs. 0.4% expected and a revised 0.4% in November
- Average hourly earnings, year-over-year: 4.7% vs. 4.2% expected and a revised 5.1% in November
The labor market posted a twelfth consecutive months of job growth in December, albeit with gains coming at a rate slower than many expected. Consensus economists expected that December payrolls increased by over 400,000, or more than double the tally from November, when a slowdown in service-sector hiring had weighed on overall employment growth.
By industry, some of the services-related sectors hardest-hit initially by the pandemic saw muted hiring at the end of December. Leisure and hospitality jobs rose by 53,000 in the last month of the year, rising compared to November’s gain of 41,000, but coming in well below the 211,000 seen in October.
Other industries saw a deceleration in hiring in December. Transportation and warehousing jobs rose by just under 19,000 during the month after a rise of more than 42,000 in November, while professional and business services positions rose by 43,000 after a gain of 72,000 during the prior month. Education and health services employment gains totaled 10,000, slowing from 14,000 in the prior period. Meanwhile, retail trade employers shed jobs for a back-to-back month.