U.S. Unemployment Rate Rose to 3.9% in December

NATIONAL REPORT—The U.S. economy added 312,000 in December, and the unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job gains occurred in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 3.9% in December, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 276,000 to 6.3 million. A year earlier, the jobless rate was 4.1%, and the number of unemployed persons was 6.6 million.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.6%) and Blacks (6.6%) increased in December. The jobless rates for adult women (3.5%), teenagers (12.5%), Whites (3.4%), Asians (3.3%), and Hispanics (4.4%) showed little or no change over the month.

Among the unemployed, the number of job leavers increased by 142,000 in December to 839,000. Job leavers are unemployed persons who quit or otherwise voluntarily left their previous job and immediately began looking for new employment.

In December, the number of long-term unemployed—those jobless for 27 weeks or more—was little changed at 1.3 million and accounted for 20.5% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 205,000.

The labor force participation rate, at 63.1%, changed little in December, and the employment-population ratio was 60.6% for the third consecutive month. Both measures were up by 0.4 percentage point over the year.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons—sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers—at 4.7 million, changed little in December but was down by 329,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.