U.S. Unemployment Rate Rises to 3.9% – Payroll Employment Increases by 312,000 in December

Employees in an office
U.S. Unemployment Rate Rises to 3.9%

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 312,000 in December, and the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent. Job gains occurred in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing, and retail trade.

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — DECEMBER 2018

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 312,000 in December, and the unemployment
rate rose to 3.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains
occurred in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing,
and retail trade.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 3.9 percent in December, and the
number of unemployed persons increased by 276,000 to 6.3 million. A year earlier, the
jobless rate was 4.1 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was 6.6 million.
(See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.6 percent) and
Blacks (6.6 percent) increased in December. The jobless rates for adult women (3.5
percent), teenagers (12.5 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), Asians (3.3 percent), and
Hispanics (4.4 percent) showed little or no change over the month. (See tables A-1,
A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of job leavers increased by 142,000 in December to
839,000. Job leavers are unemployed persons who quit or otherwise voluntarily left
their previous job and immediately began looking for new employment. (See table A-11.)

In December, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
was little changed at 1.3 million and accounted for 20.5 percent of the unemployed.
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 205,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 63.1 percent, changed little in December, and the
employment-population ratio was 60.6 percent for the third consecutive month. Both
measures were up by 0.4 percentage point over the year. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to
as involuntary part-time workers), at 4.7 million, changed little in December but was
down by 329,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time
employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were
unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In December, 1.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little
changed from a year earlier. (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 375,000 discouraged workers in December, down
by 99,000 from a year earlier. (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 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in
December had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 312,000 in December. Job gains occurred
in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing, and
retail trade. Payroll employment rose by 2.6 million in 2018, compared with a gain of
2.2 million in 2017. (See table B-1.)

Employment in health care rose by 50,000 in December. Within the industry, job gains
occurred in ambulatory health care services (+38,000) and hospitals (+7,000). Health
care added 346,000 jobs in 2018, more than the gain of 284,000 jobs in 2017.

In December, employment in food services and drinking places increased by 41,000. Over
the year, the industry added 235,000 jobs, similar to the increase in 2017 (+261,000).

Construction employment rose by 38,000 in December, with job gains in heavy and civil
engineering construction (+16,000) and nonresidential specialty trade construction
(+16,000). The construction industry added 280,000 jobs in 2018, compared with an
increase of 250,000 in 2017.

Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December. Most of the gain occurred in the durable
goods component (+19,000), with job growth in fabricated metal products (+7,000) and
in computer and electronic products (+4,000). Employment in the nondurable goods
component also increased over the month (+13,000). Manufacturing employment increased
by 284,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the gain in durable goods
industries. Manufacturing had added 207,000 jobs in 2017.

In December, employment in retail trade rose by 24,000. Job growth occurred in general
merchandise stores (+15,000) and automobile dealers (+6,000). These gains were partially
offset by a job loss in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-9,000). Retail
trade employment increased by 92,000 in 2018, after little net change in 2017 (-29,000).

Over the month, employment in professional and business services continued to trend up
(+43,000). The industry added 583,000 jobs in 2018, outpacing the 458,000 jobs added
in 2017.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, transportation
and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change
over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour
to 34.5 hours in December. In manufacturing, both the workweek and overtime increased by
0.1 hour to 40.9 hours and 3.6 hours, respectively. The average workweek for production
and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls held at 33.7 hours. (See
tables B-2 and B-7.)

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose
11 cents to $27.48. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 84 cents,
or 3.2 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory
employees increased by 9 cents to $23.05 in December. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised up from +155,000
to +176,000, and the change for October was revised up from +237,000 to +274,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were 58,000 more 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 254,000
per month over the last 3 months.