WASHINGTON (Jan. 10, 2014) — The nation's unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in December from the previous month's 7 percent, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
However, total nonfarm employment increased by only 74,000 jobs for the month, a huge drop from the 2013 monthly average of 182,000 jobs.
A decrease of 347,000 jobs in the civilian labor force, causing the labor force participation rate to fall to 62.8 percent in December from 63 percent in November, was the major cause of the decrease in the jobless rate. The decrease in the labor force offset an increase of the same magnitude in November, the BLS said.
Retail trade rose by 55,000 jobs in December, and wholesale trade by 15,000 jobs, according to the BLS. Professional and business services added 19,000 jobs to their ranks, while manufacturing jobs increased by 9,000. However, these gains were offset by job losses in construction, information and health care.
Both the U.S. Business and Industry Council (USBIC) and the Alliance of American Manufacturers (AAM) found little cause for optimism in the December jobs figures.
"A relatively good manufacturing job creation performance in December and upward revisions for November and October don't change the sector's overall humdrum big pictures for employment," said Alan Tonelson, USBIC research fellow.
AAM President Scott Paul noted that the U.S. created only 77,000 manufacturing jobs in 2013, making President Barack Obama's promise of 1 million new U.S. manufacturing jobs by 2017 more elusive than ever.
"Talk of a manufacturing resurgence is very premature," Mr. Paul said. "The last two years were very weak for manufacturing employment, and 2014 won't be much better unless Congress and the administration get their collective acts together."