January 7, 2022

In any given month employers can boost output by either additional hiring workers or by lengthening the number of  hours that their employees work.  Payroll employment rose by 199 thousand in December after climbing 249 thousand in November.  In addition to hiring people, businesses can also lengthen the hours of existing employees.  The nonfarm workweek was unchanged in December at 34.7 hours.

The changes in  employment and hours worked are reflected in the aggregate hours index which rose 0.2% in December after climbing 0.3% in November  This index increased 4.6% in the fourth quarter which, when combined with a moderate  increase in  productivity, should produce GDP growth of 7.5%.

The factory workweek fell 0.1 hour in December to 40.3 hours after rising  0.1 hour in November.  The manufacturing sector continues to recover from the March/April 2020 recession.  But at the same time factory production is being hampered by an inability to find an adequate number of skilled workers, lengthy delays in receiving required materials, dramatic increases in commodity prices which makes it difficult to produce an affordable product.

Overtime hours was fell 0.1  hour in December to 3.2 hours after having risen 0.1  hour in November.

Stephen Slifer

NumberNomics

Charleston, SC