Economy lost jobs for the first time in 8 months

For the first time since the beginning of the employment recovery in May, the national economy lost jobs. The economy lost a net 140,000 jobs in December on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

December’s job losses were primarily concentrated in the leisure and hospitality sector. Eating and drinking places lost a net 372,000 jobs in December, while the arts, entertainment and recreation (-103,000) and accommodations (-24,000) sectors also posted substantial declines.

Elsewhere, a net 63,000 educational services jobs were lost in December, while local government payrolls declined by 32,000. 

On the positive side, the professional-and-business services sector added a net 161,000 jobs in December, while retailers added 121,000 jobs. Construction firms added a net 51,000 jobs in December, while the transportation and warehousing sector added a net 47,000 jobs.

Manufacturers added a net 38,000 jobs in December, while the health care and social assistance sector added 32,000 jobs.

Overall, employment remains well below its pre-coronavirus levels. As of December, the economy was still 9.8 million jobs – or 6.5% – down from its February peak. 

Track more economic indicators and read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy.