US employment report misses expectations AGAIN: Just 199,000 jobs were added in December – less than half of the 422,000 expected – with the Omicron surge set to do more damage to the economy
- U.S. employers added just 199,000 jobs in December – far below predictions
- The number was a major miss from the 422,000 that was forecast
- Comes as businesses are struggling to fill jobs with many Americans remaining reluctant to return to the workforce
- Omicron did not likely play a huge role in the low December numbers but its affect will likely be felt in January
- Biden’s approval rating has dropped with much of that due to voters’ disappointment in his handling of the economy
U.S. employers added just 199,000 jobs in December – far below predictions – as the economy struggles with inflation and supply shortages.
The number was a major miss from the 422,000 that was forecast and was the fewest jobs added in any month of 2021. It comes as businesses are struggling to fill jobs with many Americans remaining reluctant to return to the workforce.
The unemployment rate, however, fell to 3.9% from 4.2% in November, marking a new pandemic-era low.
The below-expectations job gains in December likely reflect labor shortages as well as anomalies with the so-called seasonal adjustment, used by the government to strip out seasonal fluctuations from the data.
Omicron did not likely play a huge role in the low December numbers but its affect will likely be felt in January when job numbers could plummet yet again.
The data released on Friday was collected in mid-December, before the pandemic’s latest wave.
Since then, the Omicron variant has spiked the case rate, keeping people at home.
‘I think Omicron will slow hiring in January,’ Nela Richardson, chief economist at the payroll processing firm ADP, told The New York Times. ‘It might hit in early February as well.’
December’s numbers also come after a record 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs in November.
President Joe Biden’s approval numbers have fallen with much of that coming from voters’ disapproval of his handling of the economy. In a November Washington Post-ABC News poll, 70% of voters rated the economy negatively and about half of voters blamed Biden for inflation.
Republicans were quick to pounce on the disappointing numbers.
‘The December jobs report is the WORST of Joe Biden’s presidency and just the latest sign that his economic crisis continues,’ the House GOP Caucus said.
U.S. employers added just 199,000 jobs in December – far below predictions
It is the second month in a row that job numbers fell short.
U.S. employers added just 210,000 jobs in November, well below the estimated half a million that economists had predicted.
The labor market continues to heal from the earliest days of the pandemic, but it has still not regained all of the lost jobs from March and April 2020.
Now Omicron has sickened millions of Americans, forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights, reduced traffic and restaurants and bars and caused some major school systems to close, potentially keeping some parents at home with children and unable to work.
Still, the job market may be healthier than the modest hiring gain the government reported Friday. The aftermath of the pandemic has made the government´s employment figures more volatile, with one month´s data often followed by a sharply different trend a month or two later.
The economy has also shown resilience in the face of surging inflation, the prospect of higher loan rates and the spread of the omicron variant. Most businesses report steady demand from their customers despite chronic supply shortages.
Consumer spending and business purchases of machinery and equipment likely propelled the economy to a robust annual growth rate of roughly 7% in the final three months of 2021. Americans´ confidence in the economy rose slightly in December, according to the Conference Board, suggesting that spending probably remained healthy through year´s end.
Even with December´s modest gain, 2021 was one of the best years for American workers in decades, though one that followed 2020, the job market´s worst year since records began in 1939, a consequence of the pandemic recession. Companies posted a record number of open jobs last year and offered sharply higher pay to try to find and keep workers. Americans responded by quitting jobs in droves, mainly for better pay at other employers.