December Job Growth Lower than Expected

January 6, 2006 ( - The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that total non-farm payroll employment for December increased by 108,000.

This was lower than the Wall Street forecast of 200,000 new jobs for December, Reuters notes.   However, according to the BLS news release, the November employment number was revised to 305,000 new jobs, a gain from the previously reported 215,000 (See  Employers Pull out of Katrina-Produced Hiring Slump in November).

Both the unemployment rate, 4.9%, and the number of unemployed persons, 7.4 million, were little changed in December.  

While employment in construction and retail trade was little changed over the month, employment in the service-providing sector and leisure and hospitality enjoyed gains.   Within the service-providing sector, employment in health care grew by 21,000 in December, and in leisure and hospitality, food services and drinking places added 36,000 jobs.

In December, manufacturing employment increased by 18,000.  Most of December’s increase occurred in durable goods, which added 15,000 jobs.

Over the month, employment in the transportation and warehousing industry fell; employment of couriers and messengers declined by 6,000, and air transportation lost 5,000 jobs.

Recapping for the year, the BLS reported that the construction industry added 246,000 jobs, and employment in the health care industry expanded by 271,000 in 2005.

Professional and business services employment increased by 486,000 over the year, while financial activities posted an annual gain of 188,000.  Much of the increase occurred in credit intermediation and real estate.

Total employment, at 142.8 million in December, was 2.6 million higher than December 2004.

The BLS news release is  here .