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U.S. economy loses 140,000 jobs in December, the 1st loss since April

The latest U.S. jobs report is another major disappointment.

The Labor Department on Friday said the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, which was the first monthly loss since April, The Associated Press reports. The unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent, and AP notes this was also the first time since April it hasn’t declined. The report was out of line with expectations, as economists predicted a gain of about 50,000 jobs, CNBC reports.

“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,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

The loss in jobs came amid a surge in COVID-19 cases around the United States, which has prompted new restrictions while two coronavirus vaccines roll out at a slower-than-expected pace. Last month’s jobs report for November was also a disappointment, as 245,000 jobs were added when economists were expecting a gain of 440,000 jobs.

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“We’re still going to see a subdued pace of hiring as we’re waiting for vaccines to roll out,” Wells Fargo Securities senior economist Sarah House said, per NPR. “By the time we get to the second half of the year, though, we’re looking for employment to really strengthen.”