The December jobs report came out last Friday. Analysts expected the economy to add 450,000 jobs, but BLS reported businesses only added 199,000 – a huge miss.
Details: There was a split in the two surveys that comprise the report though. The business survey disappointed, but the households survey found there were more than 650,000 more people employed in December than in November. That is much more in line with expectations. Usually the two surveys have similar results. When they vary like this it can be hard to decipher what is going on.
By the numbers:
- The labor force grew by 168,000. There are 2.15 million fewer workers in the labor force than in Feb. 2020.
- There remain 3.5 million fewer Americans employed than in February 2020. At the December pace, it would take 18 more months to get back to pre-pandemic employment.
- Wages rose 0.6% from November, 4.7% annually – inflation is higher, so real wages are declining even with wages growing strongly.
Be smart: The labor market was probably better in December than the headlines say. Also remember the data was pre-Omicron. So we do not know just yet what impact the surge in cases will have on the job market.
—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce