Biden pleased that private employers added 223,000 jobs in December

Leisure and hospitality were standouts in the latest job reports

President Joe Biden on Friday said the latest jobs data showed the U.S. economy was moving in the right direction. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
1 of 3 | President Joe Biden on Friday said the latest jobs data showed the U.S. economy was moving in the right direction. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. data released Friday show new hires in December improved by 223,000, pushing the unemployment rate down to 3.5% during the month.

"The unemployment rate edged down to 3.5% in December and has remained in a narrow range of 3.5% to 3.7% since March," the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. "The number of unemployed persons edged down to 5.7 million in December."


U.S. President Joe Biden said the economy has seen two straight years of job growth and the employment situation is starting to stabilize following the strains imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

"We still have work to do to bring down inflation, and help American families feeling the cost-of-living squeeze," he said. "But we are moving in the right direction."

The labor market has remained strong despite concerns about runaway inflation and the possibility of a recession in the U.S. economy. Policymakers at the U.S. Federal Reserve, meanwhile, suggested last year that the aggressive rate hikes meant to cool inflation could eventually lead to job losses.

But in the minutes from the December meeting of the Federal Reserve, policymakers said they've made "significant progress" in keeping the economy in something of a Goldilocks position.


The Commerce Department in December revised its estimate for third quarter gross domestic product, from an increase of 2.9% to 3.2%, which was attributed in large part to an increase in consumer spending.

Disposable income among U.S. consumers, meanwhile, increased by $242.4 billion in the third quarter, an upward revision of $6.6 billion. That spending may be supporting job growth.

The BLS noted that the leisure and hospitality sector was among the sectors that saw notable gains in hiring last month, suggesting consumers are returning to bars and restaurants in droves.

On Thursday, private payroll processor ADP found that new hires in leisure and hospitality accounted for nearly half of the 235,000 it recorded for new additions to payrolls last month. BLS figures across the entire sector were promising, though federal data showed fewer hires than ADP.

Elsewhere, employment in the U.S. manufacturing sector was a bit sluggish, with little change reported from November. Couriers and messengers, along with warehouse and storage, were among the sectors reporting a decline in headcounts in December.

While markets analysts are likely to see the latest job report as something of a mixed bag, it was overall upbeat for a government trying to navigate its way through one of the toughest economies in decades.


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