The relentless virus finally overtook new hiring. Employers shed 140,000 jobs in the US in December, reversing a trend of seven months of job growth, reports the Wall Street Journal. The unemployment rate stayed at 6.7%, which the AP notes is the first time it has not declined since April. Since employers shed 22 million jobs in the spring because of the pandemic, they had been rehiring workers at a steady clip prior to December. Despite the gloomy numbers, analysts saw reason for hope, at least for later in the year.
“It’s reasonably hopeful this will be a one-off rough patch and we’ll recover from there,” Barclays economist Pooja Sriram tells the Journal. The rollout of vaccines and expectations of more COVID relief in the Democratic-controlled Congress were among the factors he and other analysts cited. Eventual warmer weather should help, too. Still, the figure of 140,000 lost jobs was worse than the 50,000 expected by analysts, notes CNBC. (Read more unemployment stories.)