Key Highlights

  • US employers cut 140,000 jobs in December – first monthly job loss in 8 months
  • US economy gained just 245,000 jobs in November as recovery stalls with surging COVID, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Economists anticipated gain of 440,000 jobs
  • November’s +245,000 new jobs represents 5th straight month of decelerating job gains

In December, US employers cut 140,000 jobs. December was the first time in 8 months that the jobs market actually lost jobs after nearly a half year of seeing diminishing job gains. Less than -56% of the jobs lost at the onset of the pandemic have been recovered.

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Disappointing gains in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ year-end job growth represents the fifth consecutive month of decelerating job gains since the economy began stalling its recovery. Economists expected better news to the tune of 445,000 jobs but instead, only 245,000 jobs were added during November. Payroll processer ADP in conjunction with Moody’s Analytics released this lackluster jobs growth report.

Additionally, the US Department of Labor reported that for the week ending January 2 2021, actual initial unemployment claims under state programs totaled 922,072, an increase of +9.2% for the week before and that 45 states reported 161,460 initial claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs was 19,176,857. The comparable week in 2019 saw 1,803,796 weekly claims filed for benefits. 

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ADP’s employment report was somewhat disappointing,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist with “Ideally, we’d be adding 1M and month and really climbing out of this recession.”

One economist, unnamed, who was surveyed by Dow Jones said, “The virus in in the driver’s seat. The (surging COVID) virus is what determines the trajectory of the recovery.”

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ coverage of the month-long November’s unemployment rate indicated that going in to December, the unemployment rate fell to 6.7%. Know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects its month-long unemployment data on or around the 12th of each month. ADP’s and Moody’s Analytics’ data was collected more recently than that if the BLS and, according to, “underscores how vulnerable the economy is to a ‘super-surge” of coronavirus infections around the holidays…” that could again shutter businesses and thwart job possibilities for many.

Dan North, chief economist with North America at Euler Hermes, said, “You would expect with the increase in lockdowns, you would see fewer people becoming employed as well.”

Nick Bunker, director of economic research with, agrees. “This surge in cases has the potential to significantly slow down overall economic activity and their employers’ desire to hire. The pullback…could slow consumption and therefore overall economic growth…” since consumer spending fuels approximately two-thirds of economic activity…” in the US.

Thanks to, National Public Radio, the US Department of Labor,  and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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