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Health care sector among those posting job gains in December


President praises gains, touts insulin price cap for seniors as part of economic plan.

Health care sector among those posting job gains in December

Health care was among business sectors posting notable job gains as the national jobless rate crept down to 3.5% in December 2022, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Leisure and hospitality, construction, and social assistance also had gains last month as the national nonfarm unemployment rate finished the year holding at 3.5% to 2.7% since March, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Labor. For December, the number of unemployed people was estimated at 5.7 million.

The health care sector added 54,700 jobs last month, with gains of 29,900 jobs in ambulatory health care services, 15,700 in hospitals, and 9,100 in nursing and residential facilities. Job grown in health care averaged 49,000 a month in 2022, more than five times the average monthly gain of 9,000 jobs in 2021, according to BLS.

Physician offices added 12,300 workers from November to December last year, while home health services added 10,800 jobs and 9,100 more workers joined nursing and residential care facilities. In the health care and social assistance sector, only medical and diagnostic laboratories (-500) and community care facilities for the elderly (-300) posted month-to-month decreases, according to BLS.

Other sectors

In December, employment in leisure and hospitality grew by 67,000 workers, trending up in restaurants and bars (26,000); in amusements, gambling, and recreation (25,000); and accommodation (10,000). Leisure and hospitality added an average of 79,000 jobs a month last year, down from the average gain of 196,000 jobs a month in 2021. Employment in that industry remained down from the pre-pandemic level of February 2020 by 932,000, or 5.5%.

Construction added 28,000 jobs last month, with specialty trade contractors adding 17,000 jobs. That sector grew by an average of 19,000 jobs a month in 2022, up from an average of 16,000 jobs a month in 2021.

Social assistance services added 20,000 jobs in December, with the 2022 average monthly growth of 17,000 topping the 2021 monthly average of 13,000. The mining sector grew by 4,000 jobs, while BLS reported little change for retail trade, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, government, and professional and business services.

Reaction in Washington

Total nonfarm employment grew by 223,000 in December; yearly employment rose by 4.5 million last year for an average gain of 375,000 jobs, less than the 2021 average monthly gain of 562,000 jobs for a total of 6.7 million.

In his statement on the report, President Joe Biden said “this moderation in job growth is appropriate” and to be expected. The unemployment rate is the lowest in the last 50 years, according to the White House.

“These historic jobs and unemployment gains are giving workers more power and American families more breathing room,” the president’s statement said. “Real wages are up in recent months, gas prices are down, and we are seeing welcome signs that inflation is coming down as well. It’s a good time to be a worker in America.”

The president also mentioned inflation and the $35 price cap on insulin related to the medical field.

The $35 cost of insulin for seniors is part of the administration’s economic strategy to “build an America we all take pride in, where working families have good jobs and more breathing room, and the economy grows from the bottom up and middle out for the long haul,” Biden said.

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