United States adds 199,000 jobs in December, unemployment falls to 3.9%

Economists had expected employers to add more than double the 199,000 jobs that came through last month as the Department of Labor reported on Friday. Additionally, the reported unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent.

The figure was also lower for hiring in December than it was for the previous month, when 249,000 jobs were added to the economy. The stalled job growth has been attributed by some to new coronavirus variants sowing doubt and uncertainty in the general public and threatening post-pandemic economic recovery.

However, data representative for the month of December was collected in the earlier half of the month, which was before the full extent of the omicron variant was revealed. 

“Today’s jobs report is a disappointing bookend to a historic year in the job market,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor in a commentary. “The year ended on a sour note, with job gains slowing even more than in November. New and unpredictable waves of COVID-19 variants threaten to throw the recovery into reverse, showing that we’re still at the mercy of the pandemic.”

Hiring data for December is also significantly lower than 2021’s average job growth of 573,000 jobs per month seen throughout the entire last year. 

Rather than focusing on the low job growth, President Joe Biden instead emphasized the unemployment rate falling below 4 percent during his remarks on Friday.

“I think it’s a historic day for our economic recovery,” he said. “Today’s national unemployment rate fell below 4 percent to 3.9 percent, the sharpest one-year drop in unemployment in United States history.” 




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