· Total non-farm payroll employment increased 312 thousand in December, following an increase of 176 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 301 thousand in December, while government employment increased by 11 thousand. Payroll employment rose by 2.6 million in 2018, compared with a gain of 2.2 million in 2017. Job gains occurred in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing, and retail trade.
· The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 3.9% in December, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 276 thousand to 6.3 million. A year earlier, the jobless rate was 4.1%, and the number of unemployed persons was 6.6 million
· The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.3 million and accounted for 20.5% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 205 thousand.
· The labor force participation rate remained at 63.1% in December, little changed over the year.
· The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours in December.
· In December, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 11 cents to $27.48. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 3.2%.
· Unemployment rates were lower in November than a year earlier in 290 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 69 areas, and unchanged in 29 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 54 metropolitan areas, and was unchanged in 334 areas.
· The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 10 thousand to 231 thousand in the week ending December 29. The 4-week moving average was 218.75 thousand, a decrease of 0.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.