Unemployment Rate Falls to 8.5 percent
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. Job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing, retail trade, manufacturing, health care, and mining.
1/6/2012 1:49:00 PM
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.
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
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. (See tables B-2
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. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
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