Unemployment Down To 9.4%, Hiring Gains
Finally, it looks like Washington has some good news to start your Friday off. The National unemployment rate dropped to 9.4% in December, largely in part to the retail help needed during the holiday season. Also contributing to the dip was the fact people simply gave up on looking for work. The government states that they do not count people as unemployed when they simply stop searching for work.
Washington reports that the government shed approximately 10,000 jobs while employers added 103,000 new positions. Although the figure seems great, it still fell below analysts' expectations. Private employers added a total of 113,000 jobs during the month reported, a good sign that consumer spending is seeing a little more confidence, even during one of the more heavier spending months on the calendar.
Fewer people said they were out of work last month. The number of unemployed fell by more than 500,000 to just under 14.5 million. Although, again, that figure may seem a bit staggering, consider this: during the depression, the unemployment rate was hovering near 37%. Adjusted for inflation, that figure would probably end our nation now.
Still, the unemployment rate has topped 9 percent for 20 months, the longest such streak on record. And even with last year's job gains, the unemployment rate fell only from 9.7 percent to 9.4 percent.
The economy needs to generate about 125,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population growth and prevent the unemployment rate from rising. More than double that amount is needed to reduce the rate.
In the coming months, we will see just how well we can recover as a 'unit' per se and come back from this hiring funk. Retail, as it has for some time now, will be the tell tale sign of our recovery. With closings, mergers, bankruptcies and layoffs on its resume, we'll pay close attention to the rollercoaster ride ahead.