US labor secretary: ‘No question’ omicron will impact next month’s jobs report

White House ‘certainly’ watching omicron’s impact on jobs report: Labor Secretary

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh says there’s ‘no question’ that the omicron surge will have some effect on January’s job report.

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the White House is "very closely" watching the omicron variant’s impact on future jobs reports after December’s data largely missed expectations.

"We're going to anticipate the omicron variant could have some impacts on next month's report," Walsh said on "Varney & Co." Friday. "There's no question about it."

The Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday that payrolls in December rose by 199,000, sharply missing the 400,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. The unemployment rate, which is calculated based on a separate survey, dropped to 3.9% from 4.2% — the lowest level since the pandemic began.

The last time the payroll survey had a one-month change of less than 199,000 was in December 2020 when there was a decline of 306,000 jobs.

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US economy adds 199K in December

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"The pundits or the experts always prepare a bigger number. And when I look at the report, it's a solid report," Walsh told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney.

The figures suggest that despite high demand for workers, businesses are still struggling to attract new employees as factors like a lack of childcare, virus fears and large stimulus savings persevere. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.9% as the labor shortage persists, despite the lower-than-expected unemployment drop.

"We're living in very unprecedented times, quite honestly in our country," Walsh said. "There's a lot of work that we still have to do, and we need to continue to move forward collectively together."

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Labor Secretary calls December jobs miss a ‘solid’ report

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh responds to 199,00 jobs being added to the economy in December, missing expectations.

Walsh said President Biden is "focused" on economic recovery and tackling inflation.

"The president has been focused on inflation as well, working on supply chain issues and making sure that we get products on the shelves, and also asking companies not to pass those prices on to consumers," he said. "We're doing everything we can to speed up and get more goods and products in stores in America right now as we talk."

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FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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