United States Unemployment

United States

United States: Payrolls strong again in December, unemployment drops to 5.6%

January 9, 2015

Non-farm payrolls grew by 252,000 in December, which was below November’s upward revised increase of 353,000 (previously reported: +321,000). However, the reading overshot market expectations of a 245,000 increase in payrolls and marked the 10th consecutive month of gains above 200,000.

The private sector was almost entirely responsible for new hiring, having added 240,000 jobs in December. The largest gains were registered in professional and business services, construction, and health services. The public sector added just 12,000 jobs. The U.S. economy has recovered 10.7 million jobs since February 2010, which marked the trough in the labor market crisis. In fact, the economy now has 2.0 million more people employed than at the January 2008 peak.

The unemployment rate—derived from a different survey—fell from 5.8% in November to 5.6% in December, which represents the lowest print since June 2008. The result was just below market expectations of 5.7%. Despite the steadily decreasing unemployment rate, analysts point out that the labor force participation rate is hovering around its record low and wage growth is limited.

FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect unemployment to average 5.5% this year, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month’s forecast. For 2016, the panel expects the unemployment rate to drop to 5.2%.

Author:, Economist

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United States Unemployment Chart

USA Unemployment December 2014

Note: Month-on-month variation of non-farm payrolls in thousands and unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted in %.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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