The U.S. economy created 199,000 non-farm jobs in December, fewer than half of the 422,000 that Dow Jones had forecast.
The most optimistic analysts had foreseen 453,000 new jobs.
Also last month, the unemployment rate shrank to 3.9 percent, close to the 50-year low of 3.5 percent set in February 2020.
Leisure and hospitality businesses added 53,000 workers, professional and business services hired 43,000, and manufacturing 26,000.
The construction industry took on 22,000 more workers, transportation and warehousing payrolls grew by 19,000, and wholesale trade 14,000.
The average hourly wage rose by 0.6 percent in December, setting an annual growth pace of 4.7 percent, besting forecasts of 0.4 and 4.2 percent, respectively.
However, inflation in December sped to 6.8 percent, negating any meaningful additional purchasing power in higher pay.
October’s job count was revised upward from 546,000 to 648,000; November’s count also expanded, from 210,000 to 249,000.
At the end of 2021, the U.S. workforce was 2.9 million people smaller than its February 2020 total when the COVID virus arrived.
The economy showed 12 million open jobs on 31 December and only 6.9 million people actively seeking new jobs (see related story in this issue).
Still, through 2021, the U.S. economy sprouted 6.5 million new jobs, more than at any time since 1940 as World War Two began.
TREND FORECAST: Because the chronic shortage of workers will last at least through this year, employers will need to pay more to attract and retain bodies, not to mention top talent.
To fill the remaining labor void, businesses will speed their adoption of automation for all possible tasks, a trend we highlighted in “Virus Speeds Automation: Bye Bye Workers” (21 Sep 2021) and “No Workers? No Problem. We Got ‘Bots’” (5 Oct 2021).
However, businesses also will need to implement on-the-job training programs and other initiatives to replace the skills that retired with older workers.
Therefore, workplaces increasingly will become training centers where younger workers can turn for career development. In exchange, employers will demand greater loyalty from employees.
Yet, in this new world disorder, so too has the work ethic changed. A “ghosting” generation of would-be-workers quit their jobs without giving notice—despite many making more than they asked for—and/or failing to show up for scheduled interviews.
Overall, this trend further illustrates the moral, physical, and spiritual decline of the new ABnormal society.