The US economy created just 199,000 jobs in December, a far cry from the 440,000 expected by analysts, reflecting a difficult recovery in the US labor market, subject to the vagaries of the pandemic, the department said on Friday. Job.
The unemployment rate nonetheless continued to decline, more than expected, falling to 3.9% (-0.3 percentage point), thus approaching its pre-pandemic level (3.5%).
The disappointing job creations come on top of those in November, which were also much lower than economists’ expectations (249,000 revised up).
These figures are all the more disappointing given that the data was collected before the Omicron variant spread across the country.
In addition, while the unemployment rate continues to decline for white, Asian and Hispanic people, it increased for black people to 7.1% (+0.6 points).
President Joe Biden, who has made jobs and reducing inequality a priority, was due to comment on the report mid-morning.
Half a million jobs per month
“Job growth averaged 537,000 per month in 2021,” the labor department said in a statement.
Since April 2020, 18.8 million jobs have been recreated but 3.6 million jobs are still lacking compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In December, employment continued to rise in the leisure and hospitality sector where the pandemic is most severe, as well as in professional and business services, industry, construction and transportation and storage.
Almost two years after the spread of Covid-19 in the United States, industries with face-to-face interactions, including leisure and hospitality, remain extremely vulnerable to levels of infection cases.
Many companies have postponed plans to return to the office, sometimes indefinitely.
Restaurants and theaters are in an increasingly difficult situation due to chronic staff shortages and fears of new Omicron infections.
Some school districts have returned to distance learning, or are threatening to do so, making it difficult for women to return to work, especially.