Report: The BLS Employment Situation — December 2020

In this monthly blog post we’ll report on BLS Employment Situation data as it is released, for these industries: construction, manufacturing (including durable and non-durable goods), retail trade, warehousing and storage, real estate rental and leasing services, professional and business services (including legal services, accounting and bookkeeping services, architectural and engineering services, computer systems design and related services, and scientific research and design services, administrative and support services, and administrative support services – employment services), health care, leisure and hospitality, and government.
You can always find the full Employment Situation report on the BLS website.

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 140,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) 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.

DEC 2020 - BLS Employment Situation Blog Image

BLS Summaries by Industry

Construction: Construction added 51,000 jobs in December, but employment in the industry is 226,000 below its February level. In December, employment rose in residential specialty trade contractors (+14,000) and residential building (+9,000), two industries that have gained back the jobs lost in March and April. In December, employment also increased in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+18,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+15,000).

Manufacturing: In December, manufacturing employment increased by 38,000, with gains in motor vehicles and parts (+7,000), plastics and rubber products (+7,000), and nonmetallic mineral products (+6,000). By contrast, miscellaneous nondurable goods manufacturing lost 11,000 jobs over the month. Despite gains over the past 8 months, employment in manufacturing is 543,000 below its February level. Wholesale trade employment rose by 25,000 in December but is down by 251,000 since February. In December, job gains occurred in durable goods (+11,000) and nondurable goods (+11,000).

Retail Trade: Retail trade added 121,000 jobs in December, with nearly half of the growth occurring in the component of general merchandise stores that includes warehouse clubs and supercenters (+59,000). Job gains also occurred in nonstore retailers (+14,000), automobile dealers (+13,000), health and personal care stores (+10,000), and food and beverage stores (+8,000). Employment in retail trade is 411,000 lower than in February.

Warehousing and Storage: In December, employment also grew in warehousing and storage (+8,000) and in truck transportation (+7,000), while transit and ground passenger transportation lost 9,000 jobs.

Real Estate Rental and Leasing Services: N/A

Professional and Business Services: In December, employment in professional and business services increased by 161,000, with a large gain in temporary help services (+68,000). Job growth also occurred in computer systems design and related services (+20,000), other professional and technical services (+11,000), management of companies and enterprises (+11,000), and business support services (+7,000). Employment in professional and business services is down by 858,000 since February.

Health Care: In December, health care added 39,000 jobs. Employment growth in hospitals (+32,000) and ambulatory health care services (+21,000) was partially offset by declines in nursing care facilities (-6,000) and community care facilities for the elderly (-5,000). Health care employment is 502,000 lower than in February.

Leisure and Hospitality: In December, employment in leisure and hospitality declined by 498,000, with three-quarters of the decrease in food services and drinking places (-372,000). Employment also fell in the amusements, gambling, and recreation industry (-92,000) and in the accommodation industry (-24,000). Since February, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 3.9 million, or 23.2 percent.

Government: Government employment declined by 45,000 in December. Employment in the component of local government that excludes education declined by 32,000, and state government education lost 20,000 jobs. Federal government employment increased by 6,000. Since February, government employment overall is down by 1.3 million.

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