Nonfarm payroll employment edged down (-85,000) in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 10.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell in construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade, while temporary help services and health care added jobs.
Here are the charts:
We can break down the establishment job's data into three parts. First, we had the massive job losses of late 08/early 09. Throughout 2009 the pace of job losses has declined. Finally, since September of last year, we've seen the pace of job losses moderate to the 50,000-150,00 range.
As for the unemployment rate, notice that it is moderating as well. It has been in the 9.5% - 10% range since the summer.
Let's look at the internals.
The big hits came in goods production industries, which lost 81,000, while service jobs lost 4,000. Construction lost 53,000 and manufacturing lost 27,000. On the service side we saw losses in leisure and hospitality (-25,000) and government work (-21,000), but increases in professional (50,000) and and education health care (35,000). And we again saw in increase in temporary employment of 47,000, bringing total gains in this leading to 166,000 since July.
Hours of work and overtime were unchanged and average hourly earnings were higher.
The headline number is a disappointment. However, it's important to remember that economic numbers do not move in straight lines. There have been speed bumps as the jobs situation has developed for the better over the last year. So far, this looks to be that as well.