Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
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What's in the December Jobs Report

Jan 8, 2021 | Economics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning released its monthly jobs report which showed a net loss of 140,000 jobs during the month of December. The headline decrease, however, was mostly a function of weather and virus resurgence, not by declining demand or economic spiral. Most of the job losses were confined to the leisure and hospitality sector, while most other sectors notched robust month-over-month gains.

We expect the combination of fiscal stimulus, warming weather, and virus abatement starting in around March will help these jobs and others recover strongly.  

Some key highlights from the report:

  • As mentioned, overall employment fell 140,000 in December, the first monthly decline since April 
  • However, most of the job losses were confined to the leisure and hospitality sector (-498,000). Other sectors saw job gains (apart from Private Education: -63,000, Government: -45,000, and Other Services: -22,000):
    • Professional & Business Services (+161,000)
    • Retail Trade (+121,000)
    • Construction (+51,000)
    • Transportation & Warehousing (+47,000)
    • Health Care (+39,000)
    • Manufacturing (+38,000)
    • Wholesale Trade (+25,000)
  • Persons on temporary layoff rose by 277,000 to 3 million — down from the peak at 18 million in April but 2.3 million higher than in February
  • Permanent jobs losses declined 348,000 to 3.4 million, but are still up by 2.1 million since February
  • More people are teleworking: 23.7 percent of employed people, up from 21.8 percent in November
  • The unemployment and labor force participation rates held steady at 6.7 percent, and 61.5 percent, respectively
  • Employment gains in October and November were both revised upwards: from 610,000 to 654,000 in October, and from 245,000 to 336,000 in December — therefore three-month employment gains are still net positive (+850,000)

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