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December jobs report: Employment up significantly; unemployment rate up slightly as more people enter labor force


Wages are up, too

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The number of people employed in the United States increased in the month of December, but the unemployment rate also rose slightly.

What did the jobs report say?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payroll employment increased last month by 312,000. However, during the same time period unemployment rose to 3.9 percent, an increase from 3.7 percent in November but lower than the 4.1 percent unemployment rate for December 2017.

Black unemployment rose from 6.0 percent in November to 6.6 percent, but was still less than 6.7 percent from December 2017. Asian unemployment also rose from 2.7 to 3.3 percent. With the exception of teenage unemployment (which rose 0.5 percent) and unemployment for adult men (which rose 0.3 percent), all other demographic unemployment numbers remained within 0.1 percent.

The only ethnic or age-related demographic specific number that dropped was Hispanic and Latino unemployment, which went from 4.5 in November to 4.4 in December.

The average workweek for nonfarm employees also increased by 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours, but their average hourly pay also rose by 11 cents to $27.48. Food services, manufacturing, construction, and retail trade all saw gains.

There were also fewer discouraged workers who had stopped looking for employment in December 2018 compared to December 2017 — 99,000 fewer people in December 2018 had given up looking for jobs because they had decided that there were none available. Even with this drop, there were still 375,000 discouraged workers in December.

What else?

Employment numbers for October and November were also revised up by 58,000 compared to what was previously reported. According to the BLS, employment and unemployment numbers are typically adjusted twice over the two months following their initial publication, as new information becomes available.

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