140,000 Jobs Lost in December as Recovery Slowed

More layoffs in the hospitality sector and slow hiring stalls the labor market.

In a further sign that the U.S. economic recovery is slowing, 140,000 jobs were lost in Dec. 2020 as layoffs mounted in the services sector of the economy.

Cold weather and the unmitigated spread of the coronavirus, which led to tightening economic restrictions nationwide, caused more restaurants, bars, and hotels to close and lay off workers. The unemployment rate held at 6.7%, but only 55% of the jobs that were lost in 2020 due to the pandemic have been recovered.

The steepest job losses were in the leisure and hospitality sector, where 498,000 jobs were lost with three-quarters of those losses coming from restaurants and bars. Job gains were concentrated in the professional and business services sector of the economy, where 161,000 jobs were added last month, and in temporary help services, where nearly 68,000 jobs were added.

The labor participation rate remained at 61.5%, and the number of people on temporary layoff increased by 277,000 to 3 million. The number of people who want a job, but are unable to find one, totaled 7.3 million, which is 2.3 million higher than in Feb. 2020.

Unemployment by Race

The recovery in the labor market continues to be uneven by race, with Black and Hispanic unemployment still significantly higher than for White and Asian workers.

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