The United States unemployment rate remained unchanged at 10 percent in December, but the economy lost an additional 85,000 jobs, the Department of Labor reported this morning. The numbers were worse than expected, because many economists had anticipated job growth during the month.
In addition, the labor force participation rate dropped to 64.6 percent in December from 64.9 percent in November, bringing it to the lowest level of the year. Some see this as a more accurate measure of the employment situation because it takes into account those who have given up looking for work because the job market was to weak, a segment of the population that is eliminated when calculating the headline unemployment number. There were 929,000 discouraged workers in December who gave up looking for work because they didn't think jobs were available.
Taking everything into account -- including the fact that some workers who are employed part-time would prefer to be working full-time -- the unemployment rate is 17.3 percent.
In one of the few batches of good news, the report said that the economy did add a modest 4,000 jobs in November, which represented an upward revision from the original estimate that 11,000 were lost during the month. However, the report also upwardly revised job losses in October to 127,000 from the prior estimate of 111,000.
From a political perspective, the report is more bad news for the Obama administration, which had hoped to be able to tout some growth in jobs during the month. The economy is averaging fewer job losses now than it was a year ago, but the labor market is still quite weak.
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