December 2022 Employment Summary

  • On January 11, 2023

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The holiday season is a great opportunity for many looking for additional work or a more flexible schedule through seasonal employment. Staff Solve strives to assist employers and job seekers with information and process hiring, but the overall economic picture of employment trends in the United States and possible factors involved.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5% for the month of December and has remained in a narrow range of 3.5-3.7% since March. The number of unemployed persons edged down to 5.7 million. The number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, declined by 146,000 to 1.1 million. This measure has decreased from 2.0 million a year earlier. The long-term unemployed accounted for 18.5% of all unemployed persons. 

The employment-population ratio increased by 0.2% over the month to 60.1%. The labor force participation rate was little changed at 62.3%. Both measures have shown little net change since early 2022. These measures are each 1.0% point below their values in February 2020, prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons, at 3.9 million, changed little for the month. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. 

Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care, construction, and social assistance. Payroll employment rose by 4.5 million in 2022 (an average monthly gain of 375,000), less than the increase of 6.7 million in 2021 (an average monthly gain of 562,000). Employment saw an increase in leisure and hospitality by 67,000, food services and drinking places (+26,000); amusements, gambling, and recreation (+25,000); and accommodation (+10,000). Leisure and hospitality added an average of 79,000 jobs per month in 2022, substantially less than the average gain of 196,000 jobs per month in 2021. Employment in the industry remains below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level by 932,000, or 5.5%.

Healthcare employment increased by 55,000 in December, with gains in ambulatory healthcare services (+30,000), hospitals (+16,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+9,000). Job growth in health care averaged 49,000 per month in 2022, considerably above the 2021 average monthly gain of 9,000. Construction increased by 28,000 in December, as specialty trade contractors added 17,000 jobs. Construction employment increased by an average of 19,000 per month in 2022, a little different than the average of 16,000 per month in 2021.

Social assistance offered 20,000 jobs for the month. Employment in individual and family services continued to trend up over the month (+10,000). Job growth in social assistance averaged  17,000 per month in 2022, compared with the 2021 average of 13,000 per month. Other services industry continued to trend up in December (+14,000). Monthly job growth in other services averaged 14,000 in 2022, lower than the average of 24,000 per month in 2021. Employment in other services is below its February 2020 level by 174,000, or 2.9%. 

In December, mining employment increased by 4,000, reflecting job growth in support activities for mining (+5,000). Since a recent low in February 2021, mining employment has grown by 104,000. Employment in retail trade changed little in December (+9,000). Job growth in retail trade averaged 16,000 per month in 2022, less than half the average growth of 35,000 per month in 2021. Over the month, employment in manufacturing changed little (+8,000), as job gains in durable goods (+24,000) were partially offset by losses in nondurable goods (-16,000). In 2022, manufacturing added an average of 32,000 jobs per month, a little different than the average of 30,000 jobs per month in 2021.

Employment in transportation and warehousing changed little (+5,000). Air transportation (+3,000) added jobs over the month, while employment continued to trend down in couriers and messengers (-4,000) and in warehousing and storage (-3,000). In 2022, the average job growth in transportation and warehousing (+17,000) was about half the average job growth in 2021 (+36,000). In December, government employment was essentially unchanged (+3,000). Employment in state government education declined by 24,000, reflecting strike activity among university employees. Professional and business services remained little changed in December (-6,000). Employment in temporary help services declined by 35,000 over the month and has fallen by 111,000 since July. Job growth in professional and business services averaged 50,000 per month in 2022, roughly half of the average of 94,000 per month in 2021. Little change was noted in other major industries, including wholesale trade, information, and financial activities.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents, or 0.3%, to $32.82. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.6%. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 6 cents, or 0.2%, to $28.07. 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1 hours to 34.3 hours in December. In manufacturing, the average workweek for all employees was little changed at 40.1 hours, and overtime declined by 0.2 hours to 2.9 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hours to 33.8 hours. 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised down by 21,000, from +284,000 to +263,000, and the change for November was revised down by 7,000, from +263,000 to +256,000. With these revisions, employment gains in October and November combined were 28,000 lower than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.

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