May 10, 2021

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Coronavirus & Unemployment: U.S. Lost 140,000 Jobs in December

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A woman reads a sign at a closed store during the coronavirus in Brooklyn, N.Y., October 9, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The economic rebound floundered in December as coronavirus numbers ticked up again and government stimulus aid began to run out.

The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs during the last month of 2020, the first decline in employment since April when a staggering 20.8 million jobs were lost as businesses shuttered and laid off workers during lockdowns, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

The unemployment rate remained steady at 6.7 percent, nearly double the 3.5 percent rate of December a year earlier but down from a peak of close to 15 percent at the height of the lockdowns in April. The economy is still down 10 million jobs since before the pandemic.

A major factor in the net job losses December suffered was the 372,000 jobs lost at bars and restaurants as some states reimposed lockdown measures and customers balked at eating out due to rising case numbers in many areas of the country.

Businesses laid off employees and some shuttered for good as they fought to slay afloat.

Employment also decreased in several other sectors, including recreation, private education, government, and the hotel industry. Meanwhile, professional white-collar jobs increased along with jobs in retail and construction.

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