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Jobs Report: Restaurants, Bars Among Hardest Hit in December

Employers across the U.S. decreased hiring in December, as COVID-19 cases were up and cities reimposed business restrictions.

Throughout the month, job losses were largely concentrated among restaurants, bars, hotels, casinos, and other entertainment venues, according to an Associated Press report. December was the roughest month for those sectors since last April, when nationwide shutdowns led to 7.6 million layoffs.

Here’s a closer look at statistics released Friday from The U.S. Bureau of Labor and ADP:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 140,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline reflects the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and efforts to stop the spread.

Job losses in leisure and hospitality were partially offset by gains in professional and business services, retail trade, and construction. Employment in leisure and hospitality declined by 498,000 with three quarters of the decrease in foodservice and drinking places at -372,000. Since February, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 3.9 million overall, or 23.2%.

Meanwhile, retail trade added 121,000 jobs in December, with nearly half of the growth occurring in the component of general merchandise stores that includes warehouse clubs and supercenters (+59,000). Growth also occurred in food and beverage stores at +8,000. Retail trade employment is 411,000 lower than in February 2020.

Wholesale trade employment also rose by 25,000 in December, but it’s down by 251,000 since February.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 23 cents to $29.81, while average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 20 cents to $25.09. The increases largely reflect the disproportionate number of lower-paid workers in leisure and hospitality who went off payrolls, which put upward pressure on the average hourly earnings estimates.

ADP National Employment Report

ADP reported slightly different results in its National Employment Report. ADP found that nonfarm private sector employment was down 123,000 from November to December on a seasonally adjusted basis.

For small businesses, or those with 1-49 employees, employment was down 13,000, while midsized (50-499 employees) saw an increase of 37,000. For companies with 500 or more employees, there was a drop of 147,000.

The goods-producing sector was down 18,000, while manufacturing was down 21,000. Furthermore, the leisure and hospitality sector was also down, by 58,000.