December brought 252,000 new jobs to the economy and saw a decline in the unemployment rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
While December’s job growth was not as robust as November’s, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point and is reported at 5.6 percent, which is the lowest it has been all year. The total number of unemployed persons declined along with the unemployment rate. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.7 million (down 383,000 from November) total unemployed persons in December.
Over the course of the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons has declined by 1.1 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively, which is good news for the American workforce.
The labor participation rate and number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or longer) saw little change last month, which is discouraging. The labor participation rate declined slightly to 62.7 percent, but the number of long-term unemployed was unchanged (2.8 million, accounting for 31.9 percent of the unemployed). The number of long-term unemployed has declined by 1.1 million, year over year.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from +243,000 to +261,000, and the change for November was revised from +321,000 to +353,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November were 50,000 higher than previously reported.
Employment in the Financial Activities Sector Continues to Trend Up
While the sector’s December growth was not as robust as its November growth, which saw an increase of 86,000 jobs, monthly job gains in the industry averaged 61,000 in 2014. The accounting and bookkeeping services sector saw a reduction in jobs in December (-14,000), which offset its November increase (+14,000).
Employment in the financial activities industry continued to trend up. The industry’s unemployment rate was 3.4% in December, down from last year when it was reported at 4.2%. The unemployment rate for degreed professionals (those holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher) declined by .03 percentage point and was reported at 2.9% for the month of December.
Average workweeks for private nonfarm employees held steady at 34.6 hours, while workweeks for those in the financial activities sector edged up .01 percentage point to 37.4.
Hourly earnings for private nonfarm employees decreased by 5 cents and are now reported at $24.57 an hour. This negates the 6 cent increase seen in November. The financial activities sector also saw a decrease in average hourly earnings. The sector’s average hourly earnings were reported at $31.02 as compared to $31.08 in November. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 1.7 percent for all private nonfarm employees
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