Employment in the U.S. increased less than expected in December. Given labor shortages and the increasing number of COVID-19 infections impacting economic activity, employment is expected to remain moderate.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 199,000 in December compared with 249,000 in November. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9% from 4.2% in November.
Economists had previously forecast an increase in employment of 400,000 and a drop in the unemployment rate to 4.1%.
The lower-than-expected December employment numbers likely reflect a labor shortage as well as an anomaly called seasonal adjustment. These are used by governments to eliminate seasonal fluctuations from the data.
Previously, the number of job openings had stood at 10.6 million in November.