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U.S. Economy Loses 140,000 Jobs in December, First Decline in Seven Months

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, marking the first overall decrease since May 2020, the Department of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected the report to show a gain of 50,000 jobs, still a muted expectation compared to November’s gains. The unemployment rate remained unchanged from November at 6.7 percent.

The BLS highlighted increased COVID-19 cases and the effort to contain the pandemic as a major reason for the job losses. As of Friday morning, there were a reported 21.6 million confirmed cases in the U.S., according to according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

The leisure and hospitality sector took the biggest hit, losing 498,000 jobs for the month. A majority of the losses came in food services and drinking places (negative 372,000). Since February, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 3.9 million jobs, or 23.2 percent.

Employment in private education decreased by 63,000 in December. Employment in the industry is down by 450,000 since February.

There were some sectors that showed positive growth. Employment in professional and business services increased by 161,000. Retail trade added 121,000 jobs, while the construction sector added 51,000.

In December, the average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 23 cents to $29.81. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1 hour to 34.7 hours.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised up by 44,000, from a gain of 610,000 to 654,000. Growth in November was revised up by 91,000, from 245,000 to 336,000. With these revisions by the BLS, the number of jobs created in October and November was 135,000 more than previously reported.

— Alex Tostado

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