December 2020 Jobs Report Shows 140,000 Jobs Lost as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Jobs Report

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Total nonfarm employment in the United States declined by 140,000 jobs while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent in December 2020, reflecting the recent increase in Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and efforts to contain the pandemic, according to the jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The jobs report for December 2020 revealed the number of unemployed people was unchanged at 10.7 million. Employment declines in leisure and hospitality, private education, and government were partially offset by gains in professional and business services, retail trade, construction, and transportation and warehousing.

  • Leisure and hospitality employment declined by 498,000 jobs in December 2020 and is down by 3.9 million jobs since February 2020.
  • Private education employment decreased by 63,000 jobs in December 2020 and is down by 450,000 jobs since February 2020.
  • Government employment declined by 45,000 jobs in December 2020 and is down by 1.3 million jobs since February 2020.
  • Other services employment lost 22,000 jobs in December 2020 and is down by 453,000 jobs since February 2020.
  • Professional and business services employment increased by 161,000 jobs in December 2020 but is down 858,000 jobs since February 2020 level.
  • Retail trade employment added 121,000 jobs in December 2020 but is 411,000 jobs lower than in February 2020.
  • Construction employment increased by 51,000 jobs in December 2020 but is down by 226,000 jobs since February 2020.
  • Transportation and warehousing employment rose by 47,000 jobs in December 2020 but is 89,000 jobs below its February 2020 level.
  • Health care employment added 39,000 jobs in December 2020 but is down by 502,000 jobs since February 2020.
  • Manufacturing employment increased by 38,000 jobs in December 2020 but is 543,000 jobs lower than in February 2020.
  • Wholesale trade employment gained 25,000 jobs in December 2020 but is 251,000 jobs lower than in February 2020.
  • Employment changed little in other major industries such as mining, information, and financial activities.

The jobs report showed the change in employment for October 2020 was revised from 610,000 jobs added to 654,000 jobs added while November 2020 was revised from 245,000 jobs added to 336,000 jobs added. With these revisions, gains in October 2020 and November 2020 were 135,000 jobs more than previously reported.

Since March 2020, jobs report survey interviewers were instructed to classify employed persons absent from work due to temporary coronavirus-related business closures or cutbacks as unemployed. BLS and Census Bureau analyses of data suggest this group still may include workers who should have been classified as unemployed.

“For March through November, BLS published an estimate of what the unemployment rate would have been had misclassified workers been included. Repeating this same approach, the overall December unemployment rate would have been about 0.6 percentage point higher than reported,” the jobs report explained.

The jobs report is usually released on the first Friday of every month at www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm. The jobs report for January 2021 will be released on Friday, February 5, 2021. More information about the December 2020 jobs report is at www.bls.gov/covid19/employment-situation-covid19-faq-december-2020.htm.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of January 8, 2021, there are more than 88.1 million global cases and 1.9 million global deaths, while the United States leads the world with more than 21.5 million cases and 365,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

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