December 2023 Employment Summary

  • On January 19, 2024

As 2023 comes to a close, many job seekers are hoping for a new chapter to begin with employment opportunities. Learn more about employment expectations for the new season based on data from our latest employment summary. 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 rose by 216,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in government, healthcare, social assistance, and construction.

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.5 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent, changed a little in December. The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons, at 4.2 million, changed little in December but was up by 333,000 over the year. 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. 

In December, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was  5.7 million and rose by 514,000 over the year. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.

Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force changed little to 1.6 million in December. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, at 346,000, was little changed in December and over the year.

Construction employment continued to trend up in December (+17,000), in line with the average monthly gain of 16,000 in the prior 12 months. Over the month, job growth occurred in nonresidential building construction (+8,000).

Employment in wholesale trade changed little over the month.

Employment in professional and business services changed little in December (+13,000). Monthly job growth in the industry averaged 22,000 jobs per month in 2023, which was about half of the monthly gain in 2022 (+41,000). In December, employment in temporary help services continued to trend downward (-33,000) and has fallen by 346,000 since reaching a peak in March 2022. Employment in professional, scientific, and technical services continued to trend up in December (+25,000).

Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; wholesale trade;  information; financial activities; and other services.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 15 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $34.27. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.1 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 10 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $29.42. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hours to 34.3 hours in December.  The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hours to 33.7 hours.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised down by 45,000, from +150,000 to +105,000, and the change for November was revised down by 26,000, from +199,000 to +173,000. With these revisions, employment in October and November combined is 71,000 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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