clearn.png
Saturday May 28th, 2022 6:22AM

US jobless rate sinks to 3.9% as many more people find jobs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a modest 199,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate fell sharply, at a time when businesses are struggling to fill jobs with many Americans remaining reluctant to return to the workforce.

At the same time, Friday's jobs report from the Labor Department showed that the nation’s unemployment rate fell from 4.2% to a healthy 3.9%, evidence that many more people found jobs last month. Indeed, despite the slight hiring gain reported by businesses, 651,000 more people said they were employed in December compared with November.

Wages also rose sharply, a sign that companies are competing fiercely to fill their open jobs. A record-high wave of quitting, as many workers seek better jobs, is also fueling pay raises.

Overall, the report pointed to a still-solid job market. Consumer spending and business purchases of machinery and equipment likely propelled the economy to a robust annual growth rate of roughly 7% in the final three months of 2021. Americans’ confidence in the economy rose slightly in December, according to the Conference Board, suggesting that spending probably remained healthy through year’s end.

The data for the jobs report reflects the state of the economy in early December, before the spike in COVID infections began to disrupt the economy later last month. Omicron has sickened millions of Americans, forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights, reduced traffic at restaurants and bars, and caused some major school systems to close, potentially keeping some parents at home with children and unable to work.

The aftermath of the pandemic has made the government’s survey of company payrolls more volatile, with one month’s data often followed by a sharply different trend a month or two later. On Friday, for example, November's job gain of 210,000 was revised up to 249,000, and October's gain, originally reported at 531,000, was upgraded to a strong 648,000.

The economy has also shown resilience in the face of surging inflation, the prospect of higher loan rates and the spread of the omicron variant. Most businesses report steady demand from their customers despite chronic supply shortages.

Even with December’s modest gain, 2021 was one of the best years for American workers in decades, though one that followed 2020, the job market’s worst year since records began in 1939, a consequence of the pandemic recession. Companies posted a record number of open jobs last year and offered sharply higher pay to try to find and keep workers. Americans responded by quitting jobs in droves, mainly for better pay at other employers.

Economists have cautioned that job growth may slow in January and possibly February because of the spike in new omicron infections, which have forced millions of newly infected workers to stay home and quarantine, disrupting employers ranging from ski resorts to airlines to hospitals.

Alaska Airlines said it’s cutting 10% of its flights in January because of an “unprecedented” number of employees calling in sick. But because omicron is less virulent than previous COVID-19 variants and few states or localities have moved to limit business operations, economists say they believe its economic impact will be short-lived.

Still, Andrew Hunter, an economist at Capital Economics, a forecasting firm, calculates that up to 5 million people — roughly 2% of America’s workforce — could be stuck at home with COVID over the next week or so. Workers without sick leave who miss a paycheck are classified by the government as jobless. Any such trend could sharply lower job gains in the employment report for January, to be released next month.

Omicron will also likely weigh on jobs at restaurants and bars. The number of Americans willing to eat at restaurants started to slip in late December, according to the reservations website OpenTable. Restaurant traffic was nearly at pre-pandemic levels for much of November but had fallen nearly 25% below those levels by Dec. 30, based on a weekly average of OpenTable data.

Other measures of the economy have mostly reflected a resilient economy. A survey of manufacturing purchasing managers found that factory output grew at a healthy pace in December, if slower than in previous months. Hiring also picked up. Auto dealers report that demand for new cars is still strong, with sales held back by semiconductor chip shortages that have hobbled auto production.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Careers, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US jobless rate sinks to 3.9% as many more people find jobs
U.S. employers added a modest 199,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate fell sharply, at a time when businesses are struggling to fill jobs with many Americans remaining reluctant to return to the workforce
9:15AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Supreme Court weighs vaccine rules affecting more than 80M
The Supreme Court is taking up two major Biden administration efforts to bump up the nation’s vaccination rate against COVID-19 at a time of spiking coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant
9:07AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Polish leader admits country bought powerful Israeli spyware
The leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party has acknowledged that the country bought advanced spyware from the Israeli surveillance software maker NSO Group
9:07AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Some say politics at play in Djokovic detention in Australia
On the tennis court, Novak Djokovic’s timing is perfect
7:13AM ( 2 hours ago )
Anger as Cambodia's Hun Sen meets Myanmar military leader
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Myanmar to revive peace efforts after last year’s military takeover is provoking an angry backlash among critics, who say he is legitimizing the army’s seizure of power
6:58AM ( 2 hours ago )
"A hurricane:" Virus storm sends test-makers into overdrive
The wildfire spread across Europe of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus is driving soaring needs for testing
6:51AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Some virus restrictions back in Australia as omicron surges
Australia’s most populous state has reinstated some restrictions and suspended elective surgeries as COVID-19 cases surged to another record
12:37AM ( 8 hours ago )
Djokovic's detention becomes political issue in Australia
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has embraced border officials' decision to deny entry to tennis star Novak Djokovic, who had earlier been issued documents allowing him to enter the country ahead of the Australian Open without a COVID-19 vaccine
12:34AM ( 8 hours ago )
Americans do not remember Jan. 6 Capitol riot as one people
The Jan. 6 insurrection anniversary has meant a day of solemn remembrance, but mainly for Democrats
12:16AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Ryanair to close base at Germany's Frankfurt Airport
Budget airline Ryanair says it will stop serving Germany’s busiest airport at the end of March and close its base there
6:24AM ( 3 hours ago )
Chinese anti-virus lockdowns add to concerns over economy
China’s lockdowns of big cities to fight coronavirus outbreaks are prompting concerns about more disruptions for the economy after two makers of processor chips said their factories were affected
5:19AM ( 4 hours ago )
World shares turn lower after tech-led decline on Wall St
World markets have turned lower, tracking a retreat on Wall Street led by declines in big technology stocks
4:12AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
Will Elizabeth Holmes' conviction sober up Silicon Valley?
The fraud conviction of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes could do more than just send a once-celebrated billionaire to prison for years
5:37PM ( 2 days ago )
Congress' doctor wants 'maximal telework' amid virus surge
Congress’ top doctor says lawmakers should move to a “maximal telework posture.”
4:12PM ( 3 days ago )
Live updates: US Congress’ doctor urges ‘maximal telework’
Congress’ top doctor says lawmakers should move to a “maximal telework posture.”
1:52PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Business - Careers
More weakness in technology stocks leaves US indexes lower
More declines in big technology stocks pulled major indexes lower on Wall Street, driving the market further into the red on the first week of the year
4:09PM ( 17 hours ago )
Dozens of protesters, 12 police dead in Kazakhstan protests
Authorities say security forces have killed dozens of protesters and 12 police have died during extraordinarily violent demonstrations in Kazakhstan
3:39PM ( 17 hours ago )
Stocks wobble as traders weigh outlook for rates, inflation
Stocks are wobbling in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors consider the outlook for rising interest rates and inflation
2:14PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Supreme Court weighs vaccine rules affecting more than 80M
The Supreme Court is taking up two major Biden administration efforts to bump up the nation’s vaccination rate against COVID-19 at a time of spiking coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant
9:07AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Polish leader admits country bought powerful Israeli spyware
The leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party has acknowledged that the country bought advanced spyware from the Israeli surveillance software maker NSO Group
9:07AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Kazakh president: Forces can shoot to kill to quell unrest
Kazakhstan’s president has authorized security forces to shoot to kill those participating in unrest
9:02AM ( 26 minutes ago )
US employers add 199,000 jobs as unemployment falls to 3.9%
U.S. employers added a modest 199,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate fell sharply, at a time when businesses are struggling to fill jobs, with many Americans remaining reluctant to return to the workforce
8:42AM ( 46 minutes ago )
Chicago nixes school for 3rd day as virus, union debate rage
Classes in Chicago were canceled for a third consecutive day amid an ongoing fight with the teachers union over remote learning and other COVID-19 safety protocols
8:30AM ( 58 minutes ago )