RALEIGH – The U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in December, according to the latest data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning.

Along with the increase in jobs, the nation’s unemployment rate decreased and is now 3.5%, a drop of 0.1% from the revised rate of 3.6% in November 2022.

“Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care, construction, and social assistance,” the report notes.

Dr. Gerald Cohen, the chief economist at the Kenan Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told WRAL TechWire earlier in the week that many economists and analysts expected the jobs report to be “somewhere in the 200,000 range.”

UNC economist: Today’s jobs report signals a recession is coming in 2023

For the calendar year, payroll employment rose by 4.5 million, or an average monthly gain of 375,000 jobs.

“We’re beginning to see some balance return to the labor market,” said Sarah House,  a senior economist and managing director at Wells Fargo, during a Wednesday presentation in Raleigh.  “We think the Raleigh region can sidestep that recession,” she said, anticipating that a historically mild recession would occur in 2023.

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But job losses could be coming to North Carolina in 2023.  Dr. Michael Walden predicted that some 50,000 North Carolinians could lose their jobs in 2023 as the economy enters a recession.

50,000 people to lose jobs in NC when recession hits in late 2023, economist warns