President, GOP clash over meanings of economic indicators.
The health care sector added an average of 55,000 jobs a month last year, topping the 2022 average monthly gain of 46,000 new positions.
The figures were part of the January 2024 Employment Situation Summary published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the U.S. Department of Labor.
In December 2023, the national jobless rate was 3.7%, unchanged from the month before, and the number of unemployed people held steady at about 6.3 million. The national figures crept up from December 2022, when the unemployment rate was 3.5% with 5.7 million unemployed workers.
The labor force participation rate was 62.5%, while the national employment to population ratio was 60.1% in December. Those were down 0.3% month to month, with little change from December 2022.
Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 216,000 jobs in December, with upward trends in health care, government work, social assistance and construction. Payroll employment grew by 2.7 million for the year, for an average monthly gain of 225,000 jobs, which was less than 2022 growth of 4.8 million jobs for an average monthly gain of 399,000 new posts.
Health care was a leading sector with 37,700 new jobs for the month in December 2023, including 15,300 hospitals jobs.
Ambulatory health care services added 19,200 jobs. Those included:
Offices of dentists dipped by 3,900 employees, the only category within the sector to log a loss for the month.
In December, government employment grew by 52,000, including 37,000 new local government workers and 7,000 federal government workers. Social assistance added 21,000 jobs, led by 17,000 new jobs in individual and family services.
Construction grew by 17,000 posts month to month, while transportation and warehousing dropped by 23,000 jobs. That category peaked in October 2022, but since then has lost 100,000 positions.
Leisure and hospitality added 40,000 jobs in December, but the Bureau called it little change and noted sector average growth of 39,000 jobs a month was less than half the monthly average growth of 88,000 jobs in 2022.
Employment in professional and business services changed little, adding 13,000 jobs in December. Retail trade employment also showed little change with 17,000 new jobs, and has shown little net change since recovering in early 2022 from pandemic-related losses, according to BLS.
President Joe Biden issued a statement calling 2023 “a great year for American workers,” with more jobs created during any year of the administration of President Donald Trump.
“The strong job creation continued even as inflation fell to the pre-pandemic level of 2% over the last six months, and key prices have fallen over the last year – for a gallon of gas, a gallon of milk, toys, appliances, car rentals, and airline fares,” the president’s statement said. “American workers’ wages and wealth are higher now than before the pandemic began, adjusting for inflation.”
The president mentioned the prices of insulin and prescription drugs among areas his administration is working to reduce, and he called out congressional Republicans for eyeing cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
In a statement, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel noted Republican governors lead eight of the top 10 states for jobs recovered since the COVID-19 pandemic, and Republicans control all of those states’ legislatures.
“As Bidenomics continues to cripple American families with historic prices, fewer workers are finding ways to participate in the economy than before the pandemic,” McDaniel’s statement said. “Meanwhile, Republican governors are paving the way for job growth and creation in red states, and Americans see that commonsense, conservative economic solutions are the answer to combating Bidenflation.”