Employers expanded payrolls by 199,000 jobs in December, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While this figure is well below analysts’ expectations of more than 400,000 jobs, it marks the 12th consecutive month of job gains for the U.S. economy.

The latest jobs report also notes that employers added 141,000 more positions during October and November than previously reported. Overall employment in the United States has increased by about 6.4 million jobs since the start of 2021 — or 537,000 jobs per month, on average, according to the BLS.

Leisure and hospitality saw the highest job growth in December

The BLS reports that leisure and hospitality led the way in payroll expansion last month, with employers adding 53,000 jobs. Meanwhile, employment in professional and business services continued its upward trend in December, with employers adding 43,000 jobs.

These industries also saw notable increases in employment in last month:

  • Transportation and warehousing: 18,700 jobs added
  • Manufacturing: 26,000 jobs added
  • Construction: 22,000 jobs added
  • Wholesale trade: 13,700 jobs added
  • Education and health services: 10,000 jobs added

Unemployment falls to 3.9%

The national unemployment rate in December was 3.9%, dropping from 4.2% in November.

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers was 2.1% last month, edging down slightly from 2.2% in November. These professionals are in highest demand by employers.

Number of employed persons working remotely declines to 11.1%

In December, 11.1% of employed persons teleworked due to the COVID-19 pandemic, down from 11.3% in November. The BLS describes these workers as employed persons who worked away from the office for pay at some point in the last four weeks specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, according to household survey supplemental data from the BLS, the number of people unable to work at all, or who worked fewer hours at some point in the four weeks preceding the latest survey due to the pandemic, dropped to 3.1 million in December. In November, that figure was 3.6 million.

Keep up to date with the latest hiring trends

Check out the current issue of Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report for insight on top positions for several industries including accounting and finance, technology, administrative, and marketing and creative. Learn about employers’ top hiring challenges, the plans and strategies they’re using to overcome hiring hurdles, what the next chapter is for “anywhere working,” and more.

View The Demand for Skilled Talent report now on the Robert Half website.