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Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate held at 6.7%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The job market recovery that had been underway for the past seven months ended last month, buckling from the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic.

Details: The leisure and hospitality sector shed nearly 500,000 jobs, reflecting the enormous stress the sector faces as coronavirus cases surge and states impose economic restrictions — leading to worker layoffs.

  • Three quarters of these losses (372,000) were in restaurants and bars. Cold weather prevented them from taking advantage of the outdoor dining that helped keep business afloat in earlier months.
Data: BLS; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The bottom line: The labor market was digging out from the over 22 million jobs lost because of the coronavirus. The way worse-than-expected December numbers chips away at that progress, dashing any lingering hopes of a "V-shaped' job recovery.

  • The job market is 9.8 million jobs short of where it was before the pandemic hit, with 55% of the jobs lost in March and April having come back.

What to watch: Economists are looking ahead to the latest coronavirus relief package (plus likely more relief during the incoming Biden administration) and a broader vaccine rollout — which could stem the labor market bleeding.

Yes, but: “We can't say, ‘don't worry, everything is fine, and it’s all growth from here,'” James Knightley, an economist at ING Financial, told Axios ahead of the jobs report.

  • “I think that you could get the more pain in the jobs market in the next few months."

Go deeper

Trump stock market underperformed Obama's

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

U.S. stock markets hit record highs during President Trump's time in office, but mostly underperformed his predecessor.

By the numbers: The stock market selloff that followed the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic wiped out three and a half years' worth of market gains for Trump. As of March 23, 2020, the S&P 500 had lost 1.5% since Trump's first day in office.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
4 mins ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.