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Unemployment Jumps to 7.2% in December, 9.2% for Hispanics

Hispanic Business, News Report, Staff Posted: Jan 10, 2009

According to "The Employment Situation for December 2008" released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week, the unemployment rate rose from 6.8 to 7.2 percent in December, and non-farm payroll employment continued to trend down very sharply (-524,000). December's drop in payroll employment followed declines of 584,000 in November and 423,000 in October, as revised. In December, employment fell in manufacturing, construction and employment services, while health care added 32,000 jobs. Average hourly earnings rose by 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, over the month.

The number of unemployed rose to 11.1 million in December, and the unemployment rate increased by 0.4 percentage point to 7.2 percent, a 16-year high. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 3.6 million and the unemployment rate has risen by 2.3 percentage points, with most of the increase in unemployment occurring over the past 3 months.

In December, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.2 percent), adult women (5.9 percent), whites (6.6 percent), blacks (11.9 percent), and Hispanics (9.2 percent) increased. The jobless rate for all teenagers reached 20.8 percent and 22.6 percent for Hispanic teenagers.

According to the report:
Manufacturing employment fell by 149,000 in December, the largest over-the-month decline since August 2001. Factory job losses totaled 791,000 in 2008, with nearly half of the decrease occurring in the fourth quarter. In December, declines were widespread among the component industries. The largest job losses occurred in fabricated metal products (-28,000) and motor vehicles and parts (-21,000).

Employment in construction continued to decline (-101,000) in December and has fallen by 899,000 since peaking in September 2006. Over the month, job losses occurred throughout the industry.

Within professional and business services, the temporary help industry lost 81,000 jobs in December, bringing job losses in 2008 to 490,000. In December, employment also fell in the management of companies and enterprises (-8,000) and in architectural and engineering services (-7,000).

Employment in retail trade declined by 67,000 in December and by 522,000 for all of 2008. More than half of the losses in 2008 occurred in the last 4 months of the year. In December, employment decreased in automobile dealerships (-22,000), furniture and home furnishing stores (-8,000), and electronics and appliance stores (-5,000). Wholesale trade employment fell by 30,000 over the month and by 164,000 in 2008.

Elsewhere in the service-providing sector, employment in transportation and warehousing declined by 24,000 in December, with losses in truck transportation (-16,000) and air transportation (-4,000). The information industry lost 20,000 jobs over the month. Food services employment continued to trend downward (-20,000) and has decreased by 104,000 since its recent peak in June 2008. Employment in financial activities edged down in December and fell by 148,000 in 2008.

Only health care employment continued to grow in December (32,000), with over-the-month job gains in ambulatory services (14,000) and hospitals (12,000). In 2008, health care added 372,000 jobs.


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