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Friday, January 8, 2010

Job Losses Continue, Unemployment Holds Steady...Sort Of

The New York Times reports:
The United States economy lost more jobs than expected in December, tempering hopes for a swift and sustained recovery from the Great Recession.

The Labor Department said Friday that the economy shed another 85,000 jobs last month, but that the unemployment rate held steady at 10 percent.

In a surprise that highlighted the erratic nature of economic renewal, the government reported that 4,000 jobs were actually created in November — rather than a loss of 11,000 the government had originally projected — the first gain in nearly two years.

Though jobs were lost in December, the unemployment rate did not rise, an indication that more jobless workers had given up their search for work.
For more on the real unemployment number, the percentage of Americans out of work who for one reason or another have given up on the job hunt, Yahoo News:
Beyond Friday's lackluster headline payroll figures, the "real" unemployment rate rose to 17.3% and the average hourly work week remained near record lows at 33.2. In addition, the average duration of unemployment rose to 29.1 weeks as the ranks of the long-term (or "permanently") unemployed continue to swell. Furthermore, the household survey showed a decline of 589,000 employed persons to the lowest level since 2003, according to Miller Tabak.

In sum, fewer people are working, more Americans are dropping out of the labor pool and those who are working are working fewer hours: Average hourly earnings up just 2.2% vs. a year ago in December, lowest rate since 2004 and vs. an average gain of 3.3% over the prior decade, according to Miller Tabak.

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