Newly released US jobs figures reveal a fall of 123,000 private sector jobs from November to December.
The stats paint a grim picture of the US economy at the end of a pandemic-affected year, with the fall reversing months of gentle growth in non-farm employment.
Most of the job losses came in large firms, with 147,000 jobs lost amongst America’s biggest firms.
The data comes from the ADP Research Institute.
A small bump up for mid-size firms failed to mitigate the damage.
A new stimulus package, finally passed in Washington after weeks of infighting, will see an extension of unemployment benefits as well as seeing direct cheques sent to millions of Americans.
Economists hope the intervention will prime the US economy for a post-pandemic boom, which could carry much of the rest of the world with it.
The drop is the third largest fall of the year, with more jobs lost only in March and April.
This is a developing story and will be updated