Nationwide unemployment rate unchanged at 7.8 percent in December

January 4, 2013

Online Staff Report

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 155,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Jan. 4. Employment increased in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing.

The number of unemployed people, at 12.2 million, was little changed in December. The unemployment rate held at 7.8 percent, and has been at or near that level since September.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (7.3 percent) and blacks (14 percent) edged up in December, while the rates for adult men (7.2 percent), teen-agers (23.5 percent), whites (6.9 percent), and Hispanics (9.6 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.6 percent, little changed from a year earlier.

In December, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 4.8 million and accounted for 39.1 percent of the unemployed.

The civilian labor force participation rate held at 63.6 percent in December. The employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, was essentially unchanged over the month.

The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 7.9 million, changed little in December. These individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In December, 2.6 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in December, little changed from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million people marginally attached to the labor force in December had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 155,000 in December. In 2012, employment growth averaged 153,000 per month, the same as the average monthly gain for 2011. In December, employment increased in health care, food services and drinking places, construction and manufacturing.

Health care employment continued to expand in December (plus 45,000). Job gains occurred in ambulatory health care services (plus 23,000), in hospitals (plus 12,000), and in nursing and residential care facilities (plus 10,000). In 2012, health care employment rose by 338,000.

In December, employment in food services and drinking places rose by 38,000. In 2012, the industry added an average of 24,000 jobs a month, essentially the same as in 2011.

Construction added 30,000 jobs in December, led by employment increases in construction of buildings (plus 13,000) and in residential specialty trade contractors (plus 12,000).

In December, manufacturing employment rose by 25,000, with small gains in a number of component industries. In 2012, factory employment increased by 180,000; most of the growth occurred during the first quarter.

Employment in retail trade changed little in December, after increasing by 143,000 over the prior three months. Within the industry, employment in clothing and accessories stores fell by 19,000, following gains that totaled 55,000 over the prior three months. Elsewhere in retail trade, employment in automobile dealers and in food and beverage stores continued to trend up in December.

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, professional and businesses services, and government, showed little change over the month.

In December, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $23.73. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent. In December, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6 cents to $19.92.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from plus 138,000 to plus 137,000, and the change for November was revised from plus 146,000 to plus 161,000.

The statewide unemployment rate in Illinois was 8.7 percent in November, as the state added 16,400 jobs, the largest monthly gain of 2012. Statewide statistics for December 2012 will be released Thursday, Jan. 17.

Locally, the Rockford metropolitan area continued to have the highest unemployment rate of the state’s 12 metro areas in November with 10.5 percent unemployed. Metro area statistics for December 2012 will be released Friday, Jan. 25.

Posted Jan. 4, 2013

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