US recorded job loss in December for the first time since April as rising COVID-19 cases and new business constraints impacted the world's largest economy. The unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons, however, remained unchanged at 6.7 per cent and 10.7 million, respectively, as per the date released by the US Labor Department on Friday. Although both measures are much lower than their April highs, they are nearly twice their pre-pandemic levels in February (3.5 per cent and 5.7 million, respectively).
"Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 140,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 per cent," the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
The decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus cases and efforts to contain the pandemic. In December, job losses in leisure and hospitality and in private education were partially offset by gains in professional and business services, retail trade, and construction, the release noted.
Across the major worker groups, the unemployment rates were highest among teenagers and Hispanics (Americans who are descendants of people from Spain or Latin America) at 16 per cent and 9.3 per cent, respectively. The jobless rates for adult men stood at 6.4 per cent, adult women (6.3 per cent), Whites (6 per cent), Blacks (9.9 per cent), and Asians (5.9 per cent), the data showed.
Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff increased by 277,000 in December to 3 million, compared to 18 million in April but is 2.3 million higher than in February. The number of permanent job losers declined by 348,000 to 3.4 million in December but were up by 2.1 million since February. The number of unemployed reentrants increased by 282,000 to 2.3 million over the month, 452,000 higher than in February.
Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio were both unchanged over the month, at 61.5 per cent and 57.4 per cent, respectively. These measures are up from their recent April lows but are lower than in February by 1.8 percentage points and 3.7 percentage points, respectively, as per the data.