Elections have consequences, and it appears the results of November 3rd have already impacted markets, especially with the number of states returning to aggressive shutdowns. Job hiring collapsed in December declining 140,000 jobs according the latest Labor Department figures. Non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment jumped to 9.6 percent [up 2.3 percentage points over November, while being nearly twice or up 4.6 percentage points from a year ago in December 2019 when it stood at 5.0%]. Notwithstanding, construction added 51,000 jobs in December, but employment in the industry is still 226,000 below its February peak level. Specifically, employment rose in residential specialty trade contractors (+14,000) and residential building (+9,000), two industry segments that have gained back the jobs lost in March and April. In December, construction employment also increased in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+18,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+15,000).
The overall unemployment figure stayed at 6.7 percent. (“Unemployed persons” also remained at 10.7 million per the government count). The “labor force participation” was flat at 61.5 percent. [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 viewed/counted as unemployed by the DOL)]. The “employment to population ratio” was also constant at 57.3 percent. Average hourly earnings for employees increased slightly to $25.09, fairly high due to the fact lower wage earners are being disproportionally impacted by the renewed partial government mandated shutdowns.
SEE Workforce Statistics Chart here.