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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – December 2017

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Unemployment Rate – December 2017

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Job gains were fewer in December than analysts had expected, but the unemployment rate remained at a 17-year low.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector gained 146,000 nonfarm jobs in December. Local, state and federal governments gained 2,000 jobs, resulting in 148,000 total net job gains for the month. Analysts had expected around 190,000 job gains.

After BLS revisions, October and November job gains were 9,000 fewer than originally estimated. Job gains have averaged 204,000 per month over the last 3 months. Job gains in 2017 totaled 2.1 million under President Trump, compared with 2.2 million in 2016 under President Obama.

Job growth continued in health care. The industry added 31,000 jobs in December and a total of 300,000 in 2017.

Construction (30,000), manufacturing (25,000), food services and drinking places (25,000), and professional and business services (19,000) also showed job gains in December (job gains shown in parenthesis). Retail lost 20,000 jobs while other major industries showed little change.

The unemployment rate in December held at 4.1 percent for the third month in a row. That’s its lowest level since December 2000 when it was 3.9 percent.

The average hourly wage for all private-sector employees showed a monthly gain, rising by 9 cents to $26.63. The average hourly wage rose by 65 cents (2.5 percent) in 2017. The average hourly wage increased by 7 cents to $22.30 for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees in December.

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Unemployment Rate 2016-2017
Unemployment Rate Chart 2016 to 2017

The unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent in October and remained there through December. The total number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in December was 6.6 million, down from 6.8 million in November.

The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in December was 4.9 million, up slightly from 4.8 million in November.

The average workweek in December for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.5 hours, the same as in November.

The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs — at least not for them.

The number of marginally-attached workers in December was 1.6 million, up a bit from 1.5 in November. Among the marginally-attached, 474,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs. That was up from 469,000 in November. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)

The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 1.5 million in December, down a little from 1.6 in November. These workers accounted for 22.9 percent of the unemployed. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.

If you are a recent victim of a job loss or a reduction in work hours, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.

For more details about the December 2017 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the January 2018 unemployment rate and job numbers on Friday, February 2. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.

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Except where otherwise noted, figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.

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