The US economy added 145,000 jobs in December, as the unemployment rate was static at 3.5 per cent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.
Though the figure was slightly below predictions of analysts, the retail trade and healthcare showed notable gains, while mining lost jobs.
The number of unemployed persons remained at 5.8 million, an improvement over the previous year when the unemployment rate was 3.5 per cent and the number of unemployed stood at 6.3 million people.
The job creation figure was well below the 266,000 reported for November when it received a boost from some 40,000 General Motors employees returning to the workforce following a strike. Striking workers are considered unemployed for the monthly job report.
According to the Bureau, the number of long-term unemployed (people jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged at 1.2 million and represented 20.5 per cent of the unemployed.
“The labour force participation rate was unchanged at 63.2 per cent in December. The employment-population ratio was 61.0 per cent for the fourth consecutive month but was up by 0.4 percentage point over the year.”
Additionally, the number of people employed part-time changed marginally at 4.1 million but was down by 507,000 over the year. The part-time unemployed are individuals who would prefer full-time employment, were working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs, said the Bureau.
Retail trade added some 41,000 jobs due to increased employment in in clothing and accessories stores and in building material and garden supply stores. Interestingly, both industries reported decreased employment in the previous month, November 2019.
“The employment-population ratio was 61.0 per cent for the fourth consecutive month but was up by 0.4 percentage point over the year.”– The Bureau of Labor Statistics
Healthcare saw increased employment by 28,000 with employment in ambulatory health care services and hospitals adding 32,000 jobs combined over the month. Furthermore, leisure and hospitality continued its upward trend in December, increasing by approximately 40,000 jobs.
However, mining employment fell by 8,000 in the month, capping a yearly fall of 24,000 after increasing by 63,000 in 2018.
On average, job gains were 184,000 over last three months of 2019.