FILE PHOTO: People line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The U.S. economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, marking a loss for the first time since April, according to the Labor Department. Unemployment remained steady at 6.7%.

Leisure and hospitality lost 498,000 jobs, the hardest-hit sector by far. Government jobs fell by 54,000 and education and healthcare lost 31,000 jobs. Retail, manufacturing and construction offset some of those losses by adding new positions.

The stark job news accompanies a surge in U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths, with nearly 275,000 new cases reported Thursday. More than 4,000 Americans died the same day, breaking yet another record set the day before, bringing the total American deaths to more than 365,000. More than 132,000 hospitalizations were reported Thursday evening. 

The jobs report did reveal a few small bright spots. New unemployment claims in the last week of the year dipped, and the number of permanent job losses declined by 348,000. The U.S. regained about half of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April.

With jobless numbers sinking, an opportunity arises for President-elect Joe Biden and a narrowly Democratic Congress to push through additional stimulus spending within weeks. The Dow rose early Friday following the jobs report release as investors saw hope for a larger fiscal package. Under Biden’s administration, labor recovery will be overseen by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who Biden tapped as the Labor Secretary nominee Friday.

US hit as jobs fall for first time since April” – BBC / Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Here’s where the jobs are — in one chart” – CNBC / Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

The Last Jobs Report For 2020 Shows Employment Falling By 140,000—But There Is Good News On The Horizon – Forbes – 1/8/2021
The stock market, despite the job losses, has hit new highs, largely due to hopes that the Biden administration—now that the Democrats have captured Senate control—will roll out additional substantial financial stimulus programs and a sizable infrastructure program to keep the economy moving forward. These initiatives and monies would be in addition to last week’s $900 billion stimulus package. There is hope that by vaccinating people and fighting back against the virus by taking the appropriate health measures, along with large financial stimulus packages, the job market will be rejuvenated.

The December Numbers Were Awful, but the Economy Has a Clear Path to Health – The New York Times – 1/8/2021
In the debate over which letter of the alphabet best describes the pattern of the 2020 economy, the December numbers pretty much rule out “V.” But. But. The details of this report, combined with everything else swirling around in economic policy and the financial markets, make for a more optimistic case. There is an opportunity for 2021 to be the year of a remarkable bounce-back, thanks to monetary and fiscal stimulus; the delayed effects of buoyant markets over the last few months; and above all the prospect of widespread coronavirus vaccination.

As job losses mount, states struggle to pay extended benefits – Politico – 1/8/2021
In most of the states working to reset their unemployment insurance systems, people relying on federal aid — especially a new program set up for Uber drivers and others in the gig economy — will be waiting as long as several weeks to get their hands on the money. […] The delay comes as job losses are growing, with the economic recovery losing momentum amid a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Labor reported Friday that U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, the first decline in employment since April.

Women Have Lost 700,000 More Jobs Than Men Since the Pandemic Started – The Motley Fool – 1/8/2021
But according to a CNN report based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women have taken a harder hit than men. As of November 2020, women held 5.3 million fewer jobs than they did when the pandemic started in February. Men, by contrast, only had a 4.6 million job shortfall. All told, women are down a good 700,000 positions compared to men. And that’s a hit they might struggle to recover from.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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