The U.S. economy gained 145,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 3.5%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Preliminary data from BLS also shows, for the first time since 2010, the majority of workers on U.S. payrolls are women, underscoring the importance of addressing the gender wage gap.
In response to the December job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs tweeted:
@BLS_gov continues to show modest wage gains, up only 2.9 percent over the year. Combined with modest employment growth, clearly the @federalreserve was correct to reverse course on interest rate hikes it had planned beginning back in 2018. @AFLCIO #JobsReport— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
The industries with the lowest wages (moving down the graph below the dotted horizontal line) and the greatest job gains (moving to the right from the dotted vertical line). This composition effect helps to slow overall wage growth. @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/QFrHWlT2M7— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
At 3.1% for Leisure & hospitality (mostly food service workers) and 4.2% for Retail trade, both industries where the minimum wage increases have been important, saw higher year-over-year wage growth than the average. @ernietedeschi @AFLCIO #JobsReport pic.twitter.com/D6XgCROogR— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
The weakness in wage growth, and the deceleration in job growth contribute to this sad statistic: Employment in motor vehicle production fell from 1.005 million in December 2018 to 986,900 last month. At 3.5% unemployment selling cars should be easy. @UAW @AFLCIO @bencasselman— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
State government (on left) and local government employment continue their climbs back to restoring the needed public investment for sustained growth. But, in December state government employment took a small dip, losing 8,000 while local employment grew 14,000. @AFSCME @AFTunion pic.twitter.com/YgVBb1QB9d— William E. Spriggs (@WSpriggs) January 10, 2020
Last month's biggest job gains were in retail trade (41,000), leisure and hospitality (40,000), and health care (28,000). Mining lost jobs (-8,000). Employment in other major industries—including construction, manufacturing, financial activities, transportation and warehousing, wholesale trade, information, professional and business services, and government—showed little change over the month.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (12.6%), blacks (5.9%), Hispanics (4.2%), adult men (3.1%), whites (3.2%), adult women (3.2%) and Asians (2.5%) showed little or no change in December.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged in December and accounted for 20.5% of the unemployed.