US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The overall unemployment rate again remained unchanged in December , to 4.1 percent, as reported by the US Department of Labor. as reported by the US Department of Labor. It was 4.7 percent a year ago in December 2016.

The civilian labor force participation rate also remained unchanged in December, at 62.7 percent. The participation rate has remained fairly steady since October of 2013.

The employment-population ratio remained steady at 60.1 percent in December. After a consistent increase since July 2011, the overall the employment-population ratio seems to have levelled out since the beginning of 2017.*

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in December. The payroll employment numbers for both October and November of 2017 were adjusted. Total employment gains for those months are now 9,000 fewer than previously reported.

The unemployment rate for individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree remained at 2.1 percent in December.

*It should be noted that as of January 2016, updated population estimates are being utilized when calculating employment data. BLS did not modify previous months utilizing the new estimates, so if comparing data from 2016 to earlier months, understand that there will be slight differences in the way the data was derived.

Some details directly from the BLS report:


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in December. Job gains occurred in health care, construction, and manufacturing. In 2017, payroll employment growth totaled 2.1 million, compared with a gain of 2.2 million in 2016.

Employment in health care increased by 31,000 in December. Employment continued to trend up in ambulatory health care services (+15,000) and hospitals (+12,000). Health care added 300,000 jobs in 2017, compared with a gain of 379,000 jobs in 2016.

Construction added 30,000 jobs in December, with most of the increase among specialty trade contractors (+24,000). In 2017, construction employment increased by 210,000, compared with a gain of 155,000 in 2016.

In December, manufacturing employment rose by 25,000, largely reflecting a gain in durable goods industries (+21,000). Manufacturing added 196,000 jobs in 2017, following little net change in 2016 (-16,000).

Employment in food services and drinking places changed little in December (+25,000). Over the year, the industry added 249,000 jobs, about in line with an increase of 276,000 in 2016.

In December, employment changed little in professional and business services (+19,000). In 2017, the industry added an average of 44,000 jobs per month, in line with its average monthly gain in 2016.

Employment in retail trade was about unchanged in December (-20,000). Within the industry, employment in general merchandise stores declined by 27,000 over the month. Retail trade employment edged down in 2017 (-67,000), after increasing by 203,000 in 2016.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, changed little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in December. In manufacturing, the workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.8 hours, while overtime remained at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.8 hours.

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents to $26.63. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $22.30 in December.