National Unemployment Rate Continues Downward Trend

Washington, DC…Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 200,000 in December, and the unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent, continued to trend down, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, retail trade, manufacturing, health care, and mining.
Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons (13.1 million) and the unemployment rate
(8.5 percent) continued to trend down in December. The unemployment rate has
declined by 0.6 percentage point since August. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men decreased
to 8.0 percent in December. The jobless rates for adult women (7.9 percent),
teenagers (23.1 percent), whites (7.5 percent), blacks (15.8 percent), and
Hispanics (11.0 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians
was 6.8 percent, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was
little changed at 5.6 million and accounted for 42.5 percent of the unemployed.
(See table A-12.)

The civilian labor force participation rate (64.0 percent) and the employment-
population ratio (58.5 percent) were both unchanged over the month. (See
table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes
referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 371,000 to 8.1
million in December. These individuals were working part time because their
hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
(See table A-8.)

About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in
December, little different 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. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 945,000 discouraged workers in
December, a decrease of 373,000 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 1.6 million
persons marginally attached to the labor force in December had not searched for
work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or
family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 200,000 in December. Over the
past 12 months, nonfarm payroll employment has risen by 1.6 million. Employment
in the private sector rose by 212,000 in December and by 1.9 million over the
year. Government employment changed little over the month but fell by 280,000
over the year. (See table B-1.)

Employment in transportation and warehousing rose sharply in December (+50,000).
Almost all of the gain occurred in the couriers and messengers industry (+42,000);
seasonal hiring was particularly strong in December.

Retail trade continued to add jobs in December, with a gain of 28,000. Employment
in the industry has increased by 240,000 over the past 12 months. Over the month,
job gains continued in general merchandise stores (+13,000) and in clothing and
clothing accessories stores (+11,000). Employment in sporting goods, hobby, book,
and music stores fell by 10,000.

In December, manufacturing employment expanded by 23,000, following 4 months of
little change. Employment increased in December in transportation equipment
(+9,000), fabricated metals (+6,000), and machinery (+5,000).

Mining employment rose by 7,000 over the month. Over the year, mining added
89,000 jobs.

Health care continued to add jobs in December (+23,000); employment in hospitals
increased by 10,000. Over the year, health care employment has risen by 315,000.

Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places
continued to trend up in December (+24,000). Over the year, food services and
drinking places has added 230,000 jobs.

Construction employment changed little in December. Within the industry,
nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 20,000 jobs over the month,
mostly offsetting losses over the prior 2 months.

Employment in professional and business services changed little in December for
the second month in a row. The industry added 42,000 jobs per month, on average,
during the first 10 months of 2011.

Government employment changed little in December but was down by 280,000 over
the year. Job losses in 2011 occurred in local government; state government,
excluding education; and the U.S. Postal Service.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased
by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in December. The manufacturing workweek increased
by 0.1 hour to 40.5 hours. Factory overtime decreased by 0.1 hour to 3.2
hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on
private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm
payrolls rose by 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $23.24. Over the past 12 months,
average hourly earnings have increased by 2.1 percent. In December, average
hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees were
unchanged at $19.54.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from
+100,000 to +112,000, and the change for November was revised from +120,000
to +100,000.

The Employment Situation for January is scheduled to be released on
Friday, February 3, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).