In December, the U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs, bringing the 3-month moving average to 247,000. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, near the over 50-year low first reached earlier in the year. The sectors with the largest payroll gains in December were leisure and hospitality (+67,000), education and health care (+78,000), and construction (+28,000). Monthly job growth has decelerated since the start of 2022. However, this is consistent with an economy that is reaching full employment and transitioning to steady growth.
With December’s report, we now have data on the monthly change in payrolls for all of 2022 (from December 2021 to December 2022). According to the payroll survey, the U.S. economy added 4.5 million jobs over that period. The largest total gains were in leisure and hospitality, education and health services, and professional and business services. All major industries’ payroll gains were statistically significant.
In December, the household survey recorded a 0.2 percentage point increase in the labor force participation rate, though it was not statistically significant. The labor force grew by over 400,000 people in December and the number of individuals not in the labor force fell by over 300,000. Additionally, the unemployment rate for most racial groups fell in December but increased slightly for Black women and for Hispanic men and women. This could be due to rising labor force participation rates in December for all three of these groups.
Since President Biden took office, the economy has added more than 10.7 million jobs – and the most jobs added in any two-year period on record. With significant gains across industries, 2022 was a year of steady, worker-centered growth that we will continue to focus on in the coming year.
Joelle Gamble is the chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor.