U.S. employers expanded payrolls by 216,000 jobs in December, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That figure is above analysts’ expectations of between 170,000 and 175,000 jobs. December’s gains also mark 12 consecutive months of job growth for the U.S. economy in 2023. However, the BLS notes in the December jobs report that employers added 71,000 fewer positions during October and November than previously reported.
The BLS reports that the education and health services industry saw significant payroll expansion last month, with employers adding 74,000 jobs. The government and leisure and hospitality sectors experienced robust gains, as well, adding 52,000 and 40,000 jobs, respectively. The following industries also reported notable job growth last month, according to the BLS: Retail trade: 17,400 jobs added Construction: 17,000 jobs added Information: 14,000 jobs added Professional and business services: 13,000 jobs added Manufacturing: 6,000 jobs added Wholesale trade: 5,500 jobs added
The December jobs report from the BLS shows that the national unemployment rate was 3.7% last month, unchanged from November. Analysts had projected that the rate would increase slightly. The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers was 2.1% last month, unchanged from the previous two months. These professionals are the most sought-after workers by employers.
In a separate report released earlier this week, the BLS notes that job openings in November were at  8.7 million, little changed from October. While job openings in the United States have decreased in recent months, they are still higher than the levels seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, while the national quit rate has been on the decline, the BLS reports that 3.5 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in November. This suggests that many professionals see the current employment market as ripe with opportunity for workers who have in-demand skills and experience. It seems many job seekers are taking time to weigh their options, too. U.S. employers face numerous hiring challenges, including the time it takes to hire talent. In a recent Robert Half survey, 58% of employers said it takes longer for their business to hire for open roles compared with one year ago. Other difficulties cited by employers include: Finding candidates who align with the company’s culture (49%) Meeting candidates’ salary expectations (48%) Lack of candidates applying for open roles (42%) View our State of U.S. Hiring infographic to see a breakdown of companies’ projected hiring plans by profession and city for the first six months of 2024.
The 2024 Salary Guide From Robert Half features exclusive data and input from employers and workers, and from our recruiters who staff tens of thousands of jobs each year. Our guide is designed to be a go-to resource on the latest hiring and compensation trends for both employers and job seekers. And you can view it right now, for free, on the Robert Half website. Read the 2024 Salary Guide
For more analysis of the December 2023 jobs report, see this video from Robert Half Operational President Dawn Fay. WATCH VIDEO NOW