Friday's dismal employment report was a sobering reminder that the U.S. economy has a long way to go before it once again becomes a jobs-generating engine. Employers added just 39,000 positions in November -- way below the 168,000 that some analysts had expected. Even gloomier, the nation's jobless rate ticked up two-tenths of a percent to 9.8% -- surely discouraging news for the millions who've been jobless for months now.

One reason the Labor Department report was so weak, it seems, is that seasonal hiring was somewhat weaker than anticipated. In advance of the Black Friday sales day and December's holidays, many expected that employers -- specifically retailers and shipping companies, such as United Parcel Service (UPS) -- would add more jobs than they did in November to deal with the crush of bargain-hunting consumers.

Doing the Hiring Early

But Friday's jobs report showed that the number of positions created fell in November compared to a year ago. Last month, retail payrolls experienced a nonseasonally adjusted net gain of 300,800, down slightly from a year earlier, when retailers added 318,900 jobs, according to jobs-data analysis by Chicago-based employment-services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

By contrast, in October, employers added a revised 131,800 jobs, up from the meager 47,800 in October 2009, Challenger says. It appears that this year many employers took a page from the playbook of some judicious holiday shoppers, whittling their wish lists down early by doing much of their hiring in October.

Keen on taking advantage of consumers' greater willingness to spend this holiday, many retailers got an early jump, offering heavily discounted merchandise even before Black Friday. To ensure adequate staffing for the earlier sales push, retailers ramped up hiring earlier, says Challenger CEO John Challenger. "However, the stronger hiring in October may have resulted in more subdued employment gains last month," he says.

Losing Benefits at a Bad Time

The good news, Challenger says, is that retail sales have been strong so far this year, which may lead to continued hiring in December. Last year, retail employment grew by nearly 135,000 in December. And since 1999, December retail gains have averaged about 183,500.

"So, even if December hires are somewhere in between the 2009 figure and the 11-year average, overall holiday hiring for the year could reach at least 550,000," CEO Challenger says.

One unknown factor is whether congressional inaction on an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed will affect holiday sales as Christmas nears. Employment benefits for thousands of Americans expired Nov. 30, and thousands more will see unemployment checks stop coming soon if the benefits aren't extended.

Already reeling from meager job growth, the last thing the economy needs is a reason for employers to cancel their hiring plans or put them on hold. What's needed is quick action by lawmakers to help those in need to have the best holiday season possible, given the circumstances.




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Ron

We can thank our government leaders both Republicans and Democrats for outsourcing Millions of American jobs. Our ogvernment is a large and ugly monster with 2 heads one Republican and the Other Democrat and now growing a third head. Tea Party. The problem is our Free Market Society has bee interpreted to mean that we are free to screw each other in in order to make a larger profit. This Global Economy notion has backfired on most here in America. We need to stand up as a nation and demand that our jobs be repatriated. CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME.

December 07 2010 at 4:22 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ron's comment
BHarrison2

And let's not "forget" to thank the vast majority of Congressmen for "relaxing reegulations", and letting critical Laws like the "PAY_GO" law, the Glass-Steagal Act, etc. to expire which enabled the financial isntitutions and Wall Streeters to orchestrate and to perpetuate the BLATANT FRAUDS and Ponzi type schemes . . . the drivatives, the DOs, the LDOs, the MBSs, etc. . . . which caused the phoney economic boom for the profitabiltiy of these wealthy and ultra wealthy special interests groups; and finally resulted in the collapse of our economic system. Congress was "at the core" of all that has happened. Congress became minions for the promotion of the speical interests groups. First and foremeost, Cogress has substantial cupability for all that has occured.

December 07 2010 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
page114

Tax China and get jobs back. Simple isn't it?

December 07 2010 at 4:14 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dterraman

unhappy shopper I see...

December 07 2010 at 4:04 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
katbalu46

They say there are new jobs for the Holidays....keyword is "Holidays" after the Holiday season has ended, watch unemployment go up again. Not to mention the jobs that they offer, are not paying enough to really matter, no benefits, and not enough to support a family. As for Wal-Mart....they are as bad as the government....think they're fooling people by their hiring practices....like Isilin007 says....Wal-Mart reduces regular employees hours to hire Holiday workers...it's a no win situation for the workers, and big win for Wal-Mart.....thieves, liars, manipulators, that's what Wal-Mart Hot Shots are! This government better wake up and do something soon.....something FOR us, not Against us, like they are now......they need to use COMMON SENSE and NOT thier own GREED! But that would only be if they really cared about the people wouldn't it? And we know that's not the case!

December 07 2010 at 3:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

The abreviation for the Home Office is " ho " what a coincidence~

December 07 2010 at 12:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Wrongfully terminated Walmart associates are also collecting unemployment because they won their case and are collecting Charity Care because their unemployment from low wages is even lower.

December 07 2010 at 12:47 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Stay on line an check out Walmart's abuses of workers

December 07 2010 at 12:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Walmart loses the most lawsuits of any business in America

December 07 2010 at 12:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Walmart forced their vendor Pillowtex to move over seas for cheap labor costing 5,000 American jobs and pushing them onto public assistance to tax payers.

December 07 2010 at 12:40 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

While you enjoy low prices Walmart's employees are getting your tax dollars for public assistance helping Walmart to save money and live better in Bentonville Ark. Your taxes paid for the low prices

December 07 2010 at 12:35 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply