According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent in December 2018. It was at 3.7 percent the month earlier. Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, the total number of payroll employees rose by 312,000. This increase in jobs was led by health care, food services, construction, manufacturing, and retail trade sectors. Other large industries such as mining, transportation, and warehousing had little change.
The number of long-term unemployed (out of a job for 6 or more months) remained unchanged from the month before at 1.3 million. However, the number of long-term unemployed persons is down by 205,000 since the same time last year, which is good news.
Despite the increase, the unemployment rate is still at a very healthy and relatively low level. At the same time last year, unemployment was 4.1 percent.