December Jobs Report: I Told You So - Jobs Actually Declined In December

  • temporary jobs rose by 67,600. Since February, there have still been -213,500 jobs lost, or -7.3% of all temporary help jobs.
  • the number of people unemployed for 5 weeks or less rose by 849,000 to  million, compared with April’s total of 14.283 million.
  • Professional and business employment rose by 161,000, which is still -858,000, or about 4% below its February peak.

Wages of non-managerial workers

  • Average Hourly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: rose $0.20 from $24.89 to $25.09, which is a gain of 5.2%(!) in the 10 months since the pandemic began. As with last March and April, these gains reflect that job losses occurred primarily among lower wage earners, who since May had been disproportionately recalled to work.

Aggregate hours and wages:

  • the index of aggregate hours worked for non-managerial workers declined by -0.1%. In the past 10 months combined this has nevertheless fallen by about  -6%.
  •  the index of aggregate payrolls for non-managerial workers rose by 0.7%. In the past 10 months combined this has nevertheless fallen by about -1.6%. Still, about 90% of the loss from February to April has been made back up.

Other significant data:

  • Full time jobs gained 397,000 in the household report.
  • Part time jobs declined -471,000 in the household report.
  • The number of job holders who were part time for economic reasons decreased by -332,000 to 4.891 million. This is still an increase since February of 1,772,000.


While the headline was a negative number, this was almost entirely due to huge declines of -372,000 in food and beverage establishments, and another -92,000 in amusement and recreation. Private education lost -63,000, and there were also sizable losses in local and state government.

In contrast, all of the leading job groups showed equally sizable gains, and residential construction employment made a new decade-plus high. Among leading employment indicators, only the increase in short term unemployment was a negative.

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