Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Economic News Release

Commissioner's Statement on the Employment Situation News Release

Advance copies of this statement are made available to the press
under lock-up conditions with the explicit understanding that the
data are embargoed until 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
                          Statement of

                           Keith Hall
                   Bureau of Labor Statistics
                     Friday, January 9, 2009

     The labor market continued to deteriorate in December.
Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 524,000.  This brings
job losses in 2008 to 2.6 million, 1.9 million of which occurred
in the past 4 months.  Employment dropped in nearly all major
industry sectors over this 4-month period.  In December, the
unemployment rate rose from 6.8 percent to 7.2 percent, the
highest rate since January 1993.
     Employment in manufacturing continued to fall over the month
(-149,000), with job losses spread throughout the sector.
Manufacturing has lost 791,000 jobs since the start of the
recession in December 2007 (as designated by the National Bureau
of Economic Research).  The largest declines over the month
occurred in fabricated metals (-28,000) and in motor vehicles and
parts (-21,000).  Since the start of the recession, employment in
motor vehicles and parts has fallen by 162,000, or about 17
percent.  Manufacturing hours and overtime declined in December
by 0.4 hour and 0.3 hour, respectively.
     Construction employment dropped by 101,000 over the month,
with declines dispersed throughout the sector.  Since peaking in
September 2006, employment has fallen by 899,000.
     In the service-providing sector, temporary help agencies
lost 81,000 jobs in December and 490,000 over the past 12 months.
Employment in retail trade fell by 67,000 over the month.  While
job losses were widespread among retail industries, about a third
of the decline occurred in automobile dealerships.  Employment in
wholesale trade also contracted over the month (-30,000).
     The only major private industry sector that continued to add
a significant number of jobs was health care.  Employment in this
industry rose by 32,000 over the month and by 372,000 over the
past 12 months.
     Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory
workers in the private sector rose by 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, in
December.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have
increased by 3.7 percent.  From November 2007 to November 2008,
the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical
Workers (CPI-W) rose by 0.6 percent.
     The measures from the household survey also highlight the
deterioration in labor market conditions.  The unemployment rate
rose by 0.4 percentage point in December to 7.2 percent, and the
number of unemployed persons increased by 632,000 to 11.1
million.  In 2008, the jobless rate rose by 2.3 percentage
points, and the number of unemployed increased by 3.6 million.
The rise in unemployment has been widespread across demographic
     The number of persons experiencing long spells of
unemployment also has risen.  About 2.6 million individuals had
been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in December, an increase of
384,000 over the month and nearly 1.3 million over the past 12
     The number of persons working part time who would have
preferred full-time employment also continued to increase in
December, rising to 8.0 million.  Over the last 12 months, the
number of such workers has grown by 3.4 million.
     In addition to providing information on employment and
unemployment, the household survey provides information about
persons not in the labor force--that is, those who are not
working or currently looking for work.  Among this group, about
1.9 million persons in December were classified as marginally
attached to the labor force, up from 1.3 million a year earlier.
These individuals wanted a job, were available for work, and had
looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months.  The number of
discouraged workers--a subset of the marginally attached--was
642,000 in December, up from 363,000 a year earlier.  Discouraged
workers are individuals who were not looking for a job because
they believed no jobs were available for them.
     Data users are reminded that seasonal adjustment factors for
the household survey are updated each year with the release of
December's data.  Seasonally adjusted estimates going back 5
years--to January 2004--are subject to revision.
     Summarizing labor market developments for December, nonfarm
payroll employment declined by 524,000, bringing losses for the
last 4 months to 1.9 million.  The unemployment rate rose to 7.2
     Before concluding, I am pleased to announce that, concurrent
with next month's release of the Employment Situation on February
6, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will begin publishing on its
Web site monthly estimates of the labor force status of persons
with disabilities.  These new data series will provide timely
information to analysts and policymakers into how changing labor
market conditions affect this group.  The collection of these
data is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Office of
Disability Employment Policy.

Last Modified Date: January 09, 2009