The U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in December, ending the year on a positive note

Dan Li |
Chief Financial Officer | Snagajob + PhD in Economics | Northwestern University

The U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in December, ending the year on a positive note and ending speculation of a 2023 recession.

Gains were seen again in the healthcare, government, and social assistance sectors. In those industries, jobs were up both in December and as a whole for 2023 looking at the monthly average of jobs added versus 2022. Jobs were down in transportation and warehousing, specifically from losses for courier and messenger jobs.

The unemployment rate stayed at 3.7% in December to end the year, up a little bit from 3.5% in December 2022. Wages grew $0.15 in December (0.4%), which brings the 2023 growth to 4.1%, beating the inflation rate of 3.1% from November 2022 to November 2023.

In further news of a stabilizing economy, the most recent JOLTS report shows that quits were down significantly in 2023 through November versus in 2022, showing that the rapid job-hopping that occurred during the post-pandemic reopening period has likely come to an end.

On Snagajob, job postings are down 15% month over month, and are up 37% versus pre-pandemic numbers.

Here’s your roundup of key insights from the report:

  • Wall Street Journal: "For all of 2023, employers added 2.7 million jobs, a slowdown from 2022, but a better gain than in the years preceding the pandemic."

  • Washington Post: "Though the economy appears to have dodged a recession, which was widely predicted by Wall Street forecasters only a year ago, many economists expect more labor cooling in 2024."

  • New York Times: "The resilience of job and wage gains is all the more remarkable in light of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive series of interest rate increases in the past couple of years."

  • Reuters: "The report indicated that the economy avoided a recession last year and would likely continue to grow through 2024 as labor market resilience supports consumer spending."

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Hourly Jobs

All data is from 3/2/20-12/31/23

Here are the latest overall job numbers:

Overall hourly jobs are up 37% from February 2020's pre-pandemic numbers, and they are down 15% month over month.

Here are the latest job numbers by industry and category:

Food & Restaurant jobs are down 48% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 10% month-over-month and a 46% year-over-year decline.

Hotel & Hospitality jobs are down 83% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing an 18% month-over-month decrease, and a 78% year-over-year decline.

Healthcare jobs are up 155% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 13% month-over-month decline, and a 1% year-over-year increase.

Retail jobs are down 60% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 42% month-over-month growth, and a 55% year-over-year decline.

Warehouse & Logistics jobs are down 19% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 46% month-over-month drop, and an 84% year-over-year decline.