The results reported this morning in the December 2012 BLS Employment Situation (PDF) release were lackluster – essentially a continuation of November’s performance.
The creation of 155,000 net new jobs kept pace with natural growth in labor force and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8% (November’s value was revised upward 0.1%). The most broadly defined unemployment measure (U-6), which adds to the count of people seeking jobs those who are discouraged, marginally attached to the workforce, and involuntarily working part-time, remained unchanged at 14.4%. Likewise, the labor force participation rate was unchanged, remaining at a low 63.6%. There remains a large body of unemployed and underemployed workers yet to be fully re-engaged in the US economy.
The public sector lost 13,000 jobs. In the private sector there appeared to be an early end to the holiday season, with retail declining 11,300. Transportation and Warehousing and Temporary Help both declined slightly at -0.6 each. Sectors showing relative strength were Health Care, Food Services, Construction (some impact from Sandy) and Manufacturing. The average number of hours worked edged up slightly.
The BLS revised downward its November estimate of Temporary Help employment. This suggests that late 4Q seasonal hiring did not sustain the temp hiring upward momentum seen in October.
With little new to focus on in the BLS statistics, most of the business news sources devoted their attention to exploring the possible connections between the employment performance and the fiscal cliff turmoil and/or the Fed’s monetary policies.