January 2021 Jobs Report and Industry Update
“THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — December 2020”
“Self-controlled children tend to be healthier middle-aged adults”
“A robotic revolution for urban nature”
“New class of antibiotics active against a wide range of bacteria”
“For the right employees, even standard information technology can spur creativity”
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Economics & Job Creation:
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — DECEMBER 2020
Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 140,000 in December, and the unemployment rate
was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The
decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases
and efforts to contain the pandemic. In December, job losses in leisure and hospitality and
in private education were partially offset by gains in professional and business services,
retail trade, and construction.
This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey
measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The
establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. For
more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys,
see the Technical Note.
Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Household Survey Data
Seasonally adjusted household survey data have been revised using updated seasonal
adjustment factors, a procedure done at the end of each calendar year. Seasonally
adjusted estimates back to January 2016 were subject to revision. The unemployment
rates for January 2020 through November 2020 (as originally published and as revised)
appear in table A at the end of this news release, along with additional information
about the revisions.
Household Survey Data
In December, both the unemployment rate, at 6.7 percent, and the number of unemployed
persons, at 10.7 million, were unchanged. Although both measures are much lower than their
April highs, they are nearly twice their pre-pandemic levels in February (3.5 percent and
5.7 million, respectively). (See table A-1. For more information about how the household
survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, see the box note at the
end of this news release.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for teenagers (16.0 percent) and
Hispanics (9.3 percent) increased in December. The jobless rates for adult men (6.4
percent), adult women (6.3 percent), Whites (6.0 percent), Blacks (9.9 percent), and
Asians (5.9 percent) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff increased by 277,000 in
December to 3.0 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.0 million
in April but is 2.3 million higher than in February. The number of permanent job losers
declined by 348,000 to 3.4 million in December but is up by 2.1 million since February.
The number of unemployed reentrants increased by 282,000 to 2.3 million over the month,
452,000 higher than in February. (See table A-11.)
In December, the number of persons jobless less than 5 weeks increased by 449,000 to 2.9
million, while the number of persons jobless 15 to 26 weeks declined by 303,000 to 1.6
million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 4.0
million, was essentially unchanged in December but has increased by 2.8 million since
February. The number of those jobless for 27 weeks or more accounted for 37.1 percent of
total unemployed in December. (See table A-12.)
The labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio were both
unchanged over the month, at 61.5 percent and 57.4 percent, respectively. These measures
are up from their recent April lows but are lower than in February by 1.8 percentage
points and 3.7 percentage points, respectively. (See table A-1.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 6.2 million, decreased
by 471,000 over the month. This measure is down from its April high of 10.9 million but
is 1.8 million higher than the February level. These individuals, who would have
preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been
reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)
In December, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job, at
7.3 million, was little changed over the month but is 2.3 million higher than in
February. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not
actively looking for work during the last 4 weeks or were unavailable to take a job.
(See table A-1.)
Among those not in the labor force who currently want a job, the number of persons
marginally attached to the labor force, at 2.2 million, changed little in December but
is up by 749,000 since February. These individuals wanted and were available for work
and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in
the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the
marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, was essentially
unchanged at 663,000 in December but is up by 262,000 since February. (See Summary
Household Survey Supplemental Data
In December, 23.7 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus
pandemic, up from 21.8 percent in November. These data refer to employed persons who
teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically
because of the pandemic.
In December, 15.8 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because
their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic–that is, they did not work
at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to the pandemic.
This measure is 1.0 million higher than in November. Among those who reported in
December that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost
business, 12.8 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours
not worked, little changed from November.
Among those not in the labor force in December, 4.6 million persons were prevented
from looking for work due to the pandemic. This measure is up from 3.9 million in
November. (To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must be either
actively looking for work or on temporary layoff.)
These supplemental data come from questions added to the household survey beginning
in May to help gauge the effects of the pandemic on the labor market. The data are
not seasonally adjusted. Tables with estimates from the supplemental questions for
all months are available online at
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 140,000 in December. Employment declines
in leisure and hospitality, private education, and government were partially offset by
gains in professional and business services, retail trade, construction, and
transportation and warehousing. In December, nonfarm employment was below its February
level by 9.8 million, or 6.5 percent. (See table B-1. For more information about how
the establishment survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic,
see the box note at the end of this news release.)
In December, employment in leisure and hospitality declined by 498,000, with three-
quarters of the decrease in food services and drinking places (-372,000). Employment
also fell in the amusements, gambling, and recreation industry (-92,000) and in the
accommodation industry (-24,000). Since February, employment in leisure and
hospitality is down by 3.9 million, or 23.2 percent.
Employment in private education decreased by 63,000 in December. Employment in the
industry is down by 450,000 since February.
Government employment declined by 45,000 in December. Employment in the component of
local government that excludes education declined by 32,000, and state government
education lost 20,000 jobs. Federal government employment increased by 6,000. Since
February, government employment overall is down by 1.3 million.
Other services lost 22,000 jobs in December, with over half of the loss in personal
and laundry services (-12,000). Employment in the other services industry is down by
453,000 since February.
In December, employment in professional and business services increased by 161,000,
with a large gain in temporary help services (+68,000). Job growth also occurred in
computer systems design and related services (+20,000), other professional and technical
services (+11,000), management of companies and enterprises (+11,000), and business
support services (+7,000). Employment in professional and business services is down by
858,000 since February.
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). Job gains also occurred in nonstore retailers (+14,000),
automobile dealers (+13,000), health and personal care stores (+10,000), and food and
beverage stores (+8,000). Employment in retail trade is 411,000 lower than in February.
Construction added 51,000 jobs in December, but employment in the industry is 226,000
below its February level. In December, employment rose in residential specialty trade
contractors (+14,000) and residential building (+9,000), two industries that have
gained back the jobs lost in March and April. In December, employment also increased
in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+18,000) and in heavy and civil
engineering construction (+15,000).
Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 47,000 in December, largely in
couriers and messengers (+37,000). While employment in transportation and warehousing
overall is 89,000 lower than in February, employment in couriers and messengers has
increased by 222,000 over the same period. In December, employment also grew in
warehousing and storage (+8,000) and in truck transportation (+7,000), while transit
and ground passenger transportation lost 9,000 jobs.
In December, health care added 39,000 jobs. Employment growth in hospitals (+32,000)
and ambulatory health care services (+21,000) was partially offset by declines in
nursing care facilities (-6,000) and community care facilities for the elderly (-5,000).
Health care employment is 502,000 lower than in February.
In December, manufacturing employment increased by 38,000, with gains in motor vehicles
and parts (+7,000), plastics and rubber products (+7,000), and nonmetallic mineral
products (+6,000). By contrast, miscellaneous nondurable goods manufacturing lost
11,000 jobs over the month. Despite gains over the past 8 months, employment in
manufacturing is 543,000 below its February level.
Wholesale trade employment rose by 25,000 in December but is down by 251,000 since
February. In December, job gains occurred in durable goods (+11,000) and nondurable
In December, employment changed little in other major industries, including mining,
information, and financial activities.
In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
increased by 23 cents to $29.81. Average hourly earnings of private-sector
production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 20 cents to $25.09. These
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. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1
hour to 34.7 hours in December. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at
40.2 hours, and overtime increased by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek
for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was
unchanged at 34.2 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised up by
44,000, from +610,000 to +654,000, and the change for November was revised up by
91,000, from +245,000 to +336,000. With these revisions, employment in October
and November combined was 135,000 more than previously reported. (Monthly
revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government
agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of
The Employment Situation for January is scheduled to be released on Friday,
February 5, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).
“Self-controlled children tend to be healthier middle-aged adults”
Self-control, the ability to contain one’s own thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and to work toward goals with a plan, is one of the personality traits that makes a child ready for school. And, it turns out, ready for life as well.
In a large study that has tracked a thousand people from birth through age 45 in New Zealand, researchers have determined that people who had higher levels of self-control as children were aging more slowly than their peers at age 45. Their bodies and brains were healthier and biologically younger.
In interviews, the higher self-control group also showed they may be better equipped to handle the health, financial and social challenges of later life as well. The researchers used structured interviews and credit checks to assess financial preparedness. High childhood self-control participants expressed more positive views of aging and felt more satisfied with life in middle age.
“Our population is growing older, and living longer with age-related diseases,” said Leah Richmond-Rakerd, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, who is the first author on the study. “It’s important to identify ways to help individuals prepare successfully for later-life challenges, and live more years free of disability. We found that self-control in early life may help set people up for healthy aging.”
The children with better self-control tended to come from more financially secure families and have higher IQ. However, the findings of slower aging at age 45 with more self-control can be separated from their childhood socio-economic status and IQ. Their analyses showed that self-control was the factor that made a difference.
And childhood is not destiny, the researchers are quick to point out. Some study participants had shifted their self-control levels as adults and had better health outcomes than their childhood assessments would have predicted.
Self-control also can be taught, and the researchers suggest that a societal investment in such training could improve life span and quality of life, not only in childhood, but also perhaps in midlife. There is ample evidence that changing behaviors in midlife (quitting smoking or taking up exercise) leads to improved outcomes.
“Everyone fears an old age that’s sickly, poor, and lonely, so aging well requires us to get prepared, physically, financially, and socially,” said Terrie Moffitt, the Nannerl O. Keohane Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke, and last author on the paper. “We found people who have used self-control since childhood are far more prepared for aging than their same-age peers.”
The study appears the week of Jan. 4 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, based in New Zealand, has tracked these people since they were born in 1972 and 73, putting them through a battery of psychological and health assessments at regular intervals since, the most recent being at age 45.
Childhood self-control was assessed by teachers, parents and the children themselves at ages 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. The children were measured for impulsive aggression and other forms of impulsivity, over-activity, perseverance and inattention.
From ages 26 to 45, the participants also were measured for physiological signs of aging in several organ systems, including the brain. In all measures, higher childhood self-control correlated with slower aging.
The people with the highest self-control were found to walk faster and have younger-looking faces at age 45 as well.
“But if you aren’t prepared for aging yet, your 50’s is not too late to get ready,” Moffitt added.
This research was supported the U.S. National Institute on Aging (AG032282, AG049789) and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (T32-HD007376), the U.K. Medical Research Council (P005918), the Jacobs Foundation, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Lundbeck Foundation. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study is supported by the New Zealand Health Research Council and the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
“A robotic revolution for urban nature”
Drones, robots and autonomous systems can transform the natural world in and around cities for people and wildlife.
International research, involving over 170 experts and led by the University of Leeds, assessed the opportunities and challenges that this cutting-edge technology could have for urban nature and green spaces.
The researchers highlighted opportunities to improve how we monitor nature, such as identifying emerging pests and ensuring plants are cared for, and helping people engage with and appreciate the natural world around them.
As robotics, autonomous vehicles and drones become more widely used across cities, pollution and traffic congestion may reduce, making towns and cities more pleasant places to spend time outside.
But the researchers also warned that advances in robotics and automation could be damaging to the environment.
For instance, robots and drones might generate new sources of waste and pollution themselves, with potentially substantial negative implications for urban nature. Cities might have to be re-planned to provide enough room for robots and drones to operate, potentially leading to a loss of green space. And they could also increase existing social inequalities, such as unequal access to green space.
Lead author Dr Martin Dallimer, from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, said: “Technology, such as robotics, has the potential to change almost every aspect of our lives. As a society, it is vital that we proactively try to understand any possible side effects and risks of our growing use of robots and automated systems.
“Although the future impacts on urban green spaces and nature are hard to predict, we need to make sure that the public, policy makers and robotics developers are aware of the potential pros and cons, so we can avoid detrimental consequences and fully realise the benefits.”
The research, published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, is authored by a team of 77 academics and practitioners.
The researchers conducted an online survey of 170 experts from 35 countries, which they say provides a current best guess of what the future could hold.
Participants gave their views on the potential opportunities and challenges for urban biodiversity and ecosystems, from the growing use of robotics and autonomous systems. These are defined as technologies that can sense, analyse, interact with and manipulate their physical environment. This includes unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), self-driving cars, robots able to repair infrastructure, and wireless sensor networks used for monitoring.
These technologies have a large range of potential applications, such as autonomous transport, waste collection, infrastructure maintenance and repair, policing and precision agriculture.
The research was conducted as part of Leeds’ Self Repairing Cities project, which aims to enable robots and autonomous systems to maintain urban infrastructure without causing disruption to citizens.
First author Dr Mark Goddard conducted the work whilst at the University of Leeds and is now based at the Northumbria University. He said: “Spending time in urban green spaces and interacting with nature brings a range of human health and well-being benefits, and robots are likely to transform many of the ways in which we experience and gain benefits from urban nature.
“Understanding how robotics and autonomous systems will affect our interaction with nature is vital for ensuring that our future cities support wildlife that is accessible to all.”
This work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
“New class of antibiotics active against a wide range of bacteria”
Wistar Institute scientists have discovered a new class of compounds that uniquely combine direct antibiotic killing of pan drug-resistant bacterial pathogens with a simultaneous rapid immune response for combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR). These finding were published today in Nature.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared AMR as one of the top 10 global public health threats against humanity. It is estimated that by 2050, antibiotic-resistant infections could claim 10 million lives each year and impose a cumulative $100 trillion burden on the global economy. The list of bacteria that are becoming resistant to treatment with all available antibiotic options is growing and few new drugs are in the pipeline, creating a pressing need for new classes of antibiotics to prevent public health crises.
“We took a creative, double-pronged strategy to develop new molecules that can kill difficult-to-treat infections while enhancing the natural host immune response,” said Farokh Dotiwala, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center and lead author of the effort to identify a new generation of antimicrobials named dual-acting immuno-antibiotics (DAIAs).
Existing antibiotics target essential bacterial functions, including nucleic acid and protein synthesis, building of the cell membrane, and metabolic pathways. However, bacteria can acquire drug resistance by mutating the bacterial target the antibiotic is directed against, inactivating the drugs or pumping them out.
“We reasoned that harnessing the immune system to simultaneously attack bacteria on two different fronts makes it hard for them to develop resistance,” said Dotiwala.
He and colleagues focused on a metabolic pathway that is essential for most bacteria but absent in humans, making it an ideal target for antibiotic development. This pathway, called methyl-D-erythritol phosphate (MEP) or non-mevalonate pathway, is responsible for biosynthesis of isoprenoids — molecules required for cell survival in most pathogenic bacteria. The lab targeted the IspH enzyme, an essential enzyme in isoprenoid biosynthesis, as a way to block this pathway and kill the microbes. Given the broad presence of IspH in the bacterial world, this approach may target a wide range of bacteria.
Researchers used computer modeling to screen several million commercially available compounds for their ability to bind with the enzyme, and selected the most potent ones that inhibited IspH function as starting points for drug discovery.
Since previously available IspH inhibitors could not penetrate the bacterial cell wall, Dotiwala collaborated with Wistar’s medicinal chemist Joseph Salvino, Ph.D., professor in The Wistar Institute Cancer Center and a co-senior author on the study, to identify and synthesize novel IspH inhibitor molecules that were able to get inside the bacteria.
The team demonstrated that the IspH inhibitors stimulated the immune system with more potent bacterial killing activity and specificity than current best-in-class antibiotics when tested in vitro on clinical isolates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including a wide range of pathogenic gram negative and gram positive bacteria. In preclinical models of gram negative bacterial infection, the bactericidal effects of the IspH inhibitors outperformed traditional pan antibiotics. All compounds tested were shown to be nontoxic to human cells.
“Immune activation represents the second line of attack of the DAIA strategy,” said Kumar Singh, Ph.D., Dotiwala lab postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study.
“We believe this innovative DAIA strategy may represent a potential landmark in the world’s fight against AMR, creating a synergy between the direct killing ability of antibiotics and the natural power of the immune system,” echoed Dotiwala.
Co-authors: Rishabh Sharma, Poli Adi Narayana Reddy, Prashanthi Vonteddu, Madeline Good, Anjana Sundarrajan, Hyeree Choi, Kar Muthumani, Andrew Kossenkov, Aaron R. Goldman, Hsin-Yao Tang, Joel Cassel, Maureen E. Murphy, Rajasekharan Somasundaram, and Meenhard Herlyn from Wistar; and Maxim Totrov from Molsoft LLC.
Work supported by: The G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Foundation, funds from the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Program and the Wistar Science Discovery Fund; The Pew Charitable Trusts supported Farokh Dotiwala with a Wistar Institute recruitment grant; Additional support was provided by the Adelson Medical Research Foundation and the Department of Defense. Support for The Wistar Institute facilities was provided by Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA010815 and National Institutes of Health instrument grant S10 OD023586.
“For the right employees, even standard information technology can spur creativity”
In a money-saving revelation for organizations inclined to invest in specialized information technology to support the process of idea generation, new research suggests that even non-specialized, everyday organizational IT can encourage employees’ creativity.
Recently published in the journal Information and Organization, these findings from Dorit Nevo, an associate professor in the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, show standard IT can be used for innovation. Furthermore, this is much more likely to happen when the technology is in the hands of employees who are motivated to master technology, understand their role in the organization, are recognized for their efforts, and are encouraged to develop their skills.
“What this study reveals is that innovation is found not just by using technology specifically created to support idea-generation,” Nevo said. “Creativity comes from both the tool and the person who uses it.”
Most businesses and organizations use common computer technologies, such as business analytics programs, knowledge management systems, and point-of-sale systems, to enable employees to complete basic job responsibilities. Nevo wanted to know if this standard IT could also be used by employees to create new ideas in the front end of the innovation process, where ideas are generated, developed, and then championed.
By developing a theoretically grounded model to examine IT-enabled innovation in an empirical study, Nevo found that employees who are motivated to master IT can use even standard technology as a creativity tool, increasing the return on investment on the technologies companies already have in-house.
“An organization can get a lot more value out of their IT technology if they let the right people use them and then support them,” Nevo said. “This added value will, in turn, save organizations money because they don’t always have to invest in specialized technology in order for their employees to generate solutions to work-related issues or ideas for improvement in the workplace. You just have to trust your employees to be able to innovate with the technologies you have.”