Business

Jobs Report Disappoints, Unemployment Ticks Up

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Ted Goodman Reporter

The American economy added 156,000 jobs in December, in what was the last full month of President Barack Obama’s term in office.

The 156,000 jobs figure was below Wall Street expectations of 180,000. The unemployment rate also increased slightly from November, ticking up from 4.6 percent to 4.7 percent.

Wall Street will closely watch the figures to determine when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again. The Fed increased interest rates for the second time in a decade in December, and officials said that additional increases may soon come.

The sectors that saw significant growth included health care and social assistance. Health care employment rose by 43,000 in December, bringing its average monthly growth in 2016 to 35,000. The social assistance sector added 20,000 jobs.

Employment in the transportation sector and warehousing also rose in December, with 12,000 new courier/messenger jobs added. Employment in mining changed little from November, but the sector has been hit hard overall in recent years.

The number of long-term unemployed people — those jobless for 27 weeks or more — remained unchanged at 1.8 million in December (representing 24.2 percent of the unemployed). In 2016, the number of long-term unemployed Americans declined by 263,000. The labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, changed little in December and was unchanged over the year.

The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons, at 5.6 million, was unchanged in December — but was down by 459,000 over the year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics characterize involuntary part-time workers as individuals who would have preferred full-time employment but have had their hours cut back or were unable to find a full-time job.

The report comes just days after the classic American retailer Macy’s announced plans to cut over 10,000 jobs nationwide. (RELATED: Macy’s To Close 68 Stores, Cut 10,000 Jobs)

The disappointing report is Obama’s last full jobs report. President-elect Donald Trump will inherit an economy that has experienced measured growth.

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