WASHINGTON — U.S. employers shed jobs last month for the first time since April, cutting 140,000 positions, clear evidence that the economy is faltering as the viral pandemic tightens its grip on consumers and businesses.
The unemployment rate stayed at 6.7%, the first time it hasn't fallen since April, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to CNBC, the job losses stand in stark contrast to projections, which predicted that the U.S. had added 50,000 jobs in December.
Nationwide, hospitality workers in December were impacted substantially by the surge in coronavirus cases.
Six states, Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Oregon, reduced their indoor dining occupancy to zero last month, causing the loss of 498,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry.
Friday's figures from the Labor Department suggest that employers have rehired roughly all the workers they can afford to after having laid off more than 22 million in the spring -- the worst such loss on record.
Senior economist Mark Hamrick with Bankrate.com said some areas, like construction and retail, fared better last month.
"We need to get through this period, where there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that means getting through this difficult time for the economy and getting through this very difficult time for the pandemic, then I think we do have better days ahead," Hamrick said.
The economy still has 9.9 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic sent it sinking into a deep recession nearly a year ago.
Unemployment was more than 8 points lower than its peak in April 2020.