The unemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent in January and the economy lost an additional 20,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.
At the same time, the number of discouraged workers (who have given up working for jobs so are no longer included in the unemployment rate), rose again to 1.1 million in January, up from 734,000 a year earlier.
The November jobs numbers were adjusted upward to actually show the economy added 64,000 jobs during that month (up from the prior estimate of 4,000), but in December, the numbers were revised downward to show a loss of 150,000 (compared to a lost of 85,000 in the original estimates). Taken together, that means that the economy lost 5,000 more jobs over the final two months of 2009 than previously thought.
Overall, this will be seen as good news for the White House, but there will have to be a steady trend of improving job reports between now and November for Democrats’ political prospects to brighten.