Payrolls rise by 223,000, unemployment rate falls to 3.5%

In the year The latest reading on US job growth in 2022 showed the labor market remained strong in December despite the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to the highest level in 15 years.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 223,000 last month, more than expected, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%.

The Labor Department published its latest monthly jobs report at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday. Here are the highlights of the release compared to Wall Street estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Non-farm wages +223,000 vs. +202,000 expected

  • Unemployment rate: 3.5% is expected from 3.7%

  • Average hourly earnings, month-over-month +0.3% is expected from +0.4%

  • Average hourly earnings, year over year +4.6% expected from +5.0%

Core employment numbers have retreated in recent months, but hiring remains strong despite the Fed’s efforts to curb strong job growth that has put pressure on wages and spurred stubborn inflation. In the year The U.S. economy will add 4.5 million payrolls by 2022, an average increase of 375,000 per month.

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Average hourly earnings last month rose at a slightly slower pace of 0.3% from a revised 0.4% in November, while the annual gain in wages fell to 4.6% from 4.8% last month.

Stock futures rose after the report’s release as Wall Street weighed the implications of slowing wage growth.

The November payrolls reading was revised up to 256,000 from the previously reported 263,000, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.6% from the prior reading of 3.7%.

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The labor force participation rate rose slightly to 62.3% last month, from 1% below the level in February 2020 before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Labor Department said in a release, showing the measure was largely unchanged from early 2022.

At the industry level, the biggest gains were seen in entertainment and hospitality, health care, construction and social assistance.

Leisure and hospitality, one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, continued to recover strongly, with employers adding 67,000 jobs in the month. An average of 79,000 leisure and hospitality jobs were added or created each month in 2022, a fraction of the 196,000 jobs gained in 2021. Employment in the sector is 932,000 jobs – or 5.85% – below pre-Covid levels.

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Jobs in health care rose by 55,000 in December and averaged 49,000 per month for the year – notably above the 9,000 monthly average in 2021.

(This post is breaking. Please check back for updates.)

Cal Trans workers assess damage to a bridge after a powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the Rio del California, USA, on December 20, 2022, off the coast of Northern California.  REUTERS/Fred Greaves

Cal Trans workers on a bridge after a powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck along the Rio del California coast in Northern California, USA, on December 20, 2022. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

Alexandra Semenova is a Yahoo Finance reporter. Follow her on Twitter. @alexandraandnyc

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