By Jamie Zananiri

The December 2021 Employment Situation from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been released, so let’s see how we ended the year!

The great news: Unemployment continues to trend down, now sitting at 3.9%-lower than at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 (4.4%) and nearly meeting February 2020’s 50-year low rate of 3.5%.

The good news: Leisure and hospitality saw the most jobs added with 53,000, followed by professional and business services with 43,000 jobs added. Manufacturing also added 26,000 jobs in December. Wages improved another .6%, rising 4.7% overall during 2021.

The bad news: Only 199,000 jobs were added in December, down from November (249,000), and less than half of the projected 422,000 expected by economists. While overall jobless rates fell in December, minorities are still not gaining jobs, and the jobless rate for Black Americans rose to 7.1% from 6.5% in November. There are still 4 million more jobs than there are unemployed workers. Retail continued to lose jobs as they did the month before. Childcare providers lost jobs for the third month in a row.

Keep in mind: These numbers were recorded before the Omicron variant was widespread throughout the US, so we may see that impact with January’s numbers.

Key takeaways: Economic recovery is continuing to improve, but will unlikely see real growth until we are post-pandemic. The enormous disparity of open jobs and available workers means workers are able to be more discerning about which jobs they’ll accept, with anything from remote work, wages, childcare, or covid precautions influencing their decisions. Savvy employers will review their open positions to ensure they are clear about who they need to hire and what skills truly matter vs. what can be taught on the job, and ensure they are competitive when it comes to what perks they can offer, from wages to remote work to flexible schedules.

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