WASHINGTON (Jan. 7, 2011) — The U.S. unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 9.4 percent in December 2010, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Total unemployment fell by 556,000 during the month to 14.5 million, the BLS said. Total nonfarm employment increased by 103,000, with the highest increase (47,000) in the leisure and hospitality industry. Healthcare also enjoyed healthy employment gains, with 36,000.
More limited employment growth occurred in temporary help services (up 16,000), motor vehicle and parts stores (up 8,000), manufacturing (up 10,000) and mining (up 5,000). Construction employment fell by 16,000.
Representatives of the manufacturing, labor and small business sectors greeted the new employment figures with little enthusiasm.
“Viewed against the millions of productive manufacturing jobs lost in the past few years, this small gain reveals that our manufacturing sector is treading water,” said Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a coalition of the United Steelworkers and various U.S. manufacturing firms. “Overall, the relatively stagnant job market in manufacturing shows exactly why we need a national manufacturing strategy.”
Job creation in small business also remained flat during December 2010, according to William C. Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business.
“The good news is that the two job creation indicators—job openings and job creation plans—both reached new recovery highs,” Mr. Dunkelberg said. “However, the small business sector continues to underperform on job creation in this recovery compared to other recovery periods.”