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December 2021 Employment Data Digest


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December 2021 Employment Data Digest

  • The U.S. economy added 199,000 jobs in December, down from the 249,000 jobs added in November. 
  • The overall unemployment rate declined from 4.2 percent to 3.9 percent. The unemployment rate for people ages 55+ declined from 3.2 percent to 3 percent. The unemployment rate decreased from 3 percent to 2.7 percent for 55+ men and from 3.5 percent to 3.2 percent for 55+ women.
  • In December, the percentage of jobseekers ages 55+ who were long-term unemployed increased to 42.8 percent. Among those ages 16 to 54, it declined to 29.7 percent.  
  • The labor force participation rate for the 55+ increased slightly to 38.5 percent and was also up for those ages 65 and older to 19.4 percent. 


  • 199,000 jobs added in December ↓
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9 percent ↓  
  • Number of unemployed persons: 6.3 million ↓
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.9 percent ↔
  • Long-term unemployed ages 16–54: 29.7 percent ↓


  • 36.9 million 55+ workers employed in December ↑
  • 55+ unemployment rate: 3.0 percent ↓
  • Number of 55+ unemployed persons: 1.1 million ↓
  • 55+ labor force participation rate: 38.5 percent ↑
  • 55+ long-term unemployed: 42.8 percent ↑

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Arrows denote a directional change from the prior month.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

About the PPI Monthly Employment Data Digest

The AARP Public Policy Institute’s (PPI) latest monthly digest of employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) examines the findings from the Employment Situation Report. It takes a closer look at employment data for people ages 55 and over, including labor force participation, employment rates, and duration of unemployment. 

For more analysis from PPI expert Jennifer Schramm on employment trends and older workers, see our blog

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