Job numbers in December remained fairly modest, down to only 199,000 new positions according the latest Labor Department figures. (This is slightly above the 130-150,000 estimated increase needed on a monthly basis to stay-up with growing demographics). The non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment increased to 5.0 percent in December, in keeping with seasonal weather trends and identical to the pre-Covid 2019 level. [The new figure is up 0.3 basis points vs. November ’21 level; while being down by 4.6 points from the pandemic/shutdown induced 9.6% figure of last December 2020]. Construction employment rose by 22,000 in December, following monthly gains averaging 38,000 over the prior 3 months. In December, job gains occurred in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+13,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+10,000). However, construction job numbers are still 88,000 below its February 2020 level.
The overall unemployment figure continues to recede down (0.3) to 3.92 percent. (“Unemployed persons” also decreased to 6.3 million per the government count). “Labor force participation” improved going up 0.1 point to 61.9 percent. [BUT NOTE: The “labor force participation” rate “typically” works inversely to the overall unemployment figures. Meaning: as it deteriorates/gets worse or smaller, it actually is counted as improving unemployment (i.e., people leaving the workforce are no longer counted as unemployed by the DOL). The “employment to population ratio” experienced an upward movement of only 0.1 to 59.3 percent. Average hourly earnings for employees again moved-up to $26.61, confirming to some extent a possible stabilizing of hourly wages at a higher norm in the post pandemic era, potentially due to a shortage of willing workers at this time.
SEE Workforce Statistics Chart.