Employers Added 103,000 Jobs in December; Jobless Rate Falls to 9.4%

job postingsThe nation's economy added 103,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent last month, its lowest level in 19 months.

But the job growth fell short of expectations based on a strengthening economy. And the drop in unemployment was mainly because people stopped looking for work.

Private employers added a net total of 113,000 jobs last month and the government shed 10,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.

"It's a bit of a mixed bag," said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's Analytics. Many analysts hoped to see larger job gains, and the drop in the unemployment rate is unlikely to be sustained, he said.

"The labor market ended last year with a bit of a thud," he said. "But I think things will get much better this year."

More people were hired in previous months than the government first estimated. The government's revisions showed the economy added 210,000 jobs in October, above the previous figure of 172,000. November's total was revised to 71,000, up from 39,000.

Over the past three months, the economy has added an average of 128,000 jobs. That's just enough to keep up with the population growth. Nearly double is generally needed to significantly reduce the unemployment rate.

But other factors can affect the unemployment rate, at least temporarily. One key reason for the drop was that the government no longer counts people as unemployed when they stop looking for work.

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, the lowest since April 2009.

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.

Through all of 2010, the nation added 1.1 million jobs, or an average of 94,000 jobs a month.

Economists expect hiring will ramp up this year, with some predicting double last year's total of jobs or more. A tax cut package enacted last month should boost consumer and business spending.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered a more optimistic outlook for the economy while testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Friday. Still, Bernanke said it could take four to five years for unemployment to drop to a historically normal rate of around 6 percent.

The health care and leisure and hospitality sectors showed the strongest job gains last month. Health care added about 36,000 jobs, while restaurants and hotels hired more than 29,000 new workers.

Retailers added 12,000 net new jobs, and manufacturers 10,000. The bleeding continued in construction, which cut 16,000 jobs.

Including those who are working part-time but would prefer full-time work, and those who have given up looking for work, the underemployment rate was 16.7 percent last month. That's down from 17 percent in November.


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lisak1960

Socialism is the change Obama brought. With it we have less incentive to produce therefore we have less employment. Our socialist educational system has done a good job brainwashing our children of our formerly free capitalist nation's success. Now, they will pay the price of our electing these socialist demons to the white house and congress. Do you ever wonder why evil, ultra rich men like George Soros back corrupt Demoncrat socialist politicians with millions of dollars? It's because socialism makes the richer, richer and the poor and middle class poorer, leaving them and their corrupt cronies with more money and power. Example: Mexico is the largest producer of silver in the world. It has plenty of oil. Yet, even though the "richest man in the world" is from Mexico, the average Mexican makes less than 6 dollars a day. Socialism at it's finest.

January 10 2011 at 4:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pmurph2000

Does anyone actually believe the governments doctored numbers??

January 09 2011 at 9:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
reformtxcs

These figures posted paint a smoke and mirrors picture.....they fail to include those unemployed Americans whose unemployment benefits have expired.....those people remain unemployed. They aren't included in unemployment figures because those figures are based on application for unemployment benefits. If you are no longer eligible you are no longer counted......it doesn't mean the situation has gotten better, in fact just the opposite!

January 09 2011 at 10:36 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to reformtxcs's comment
bggdg

No, the figures specifically do not "fail to include those unemployed Americans whose unemployment benefits have expired". In fact, they have nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not one is eligibile for, or has applied for, or is collecting, or has previously collected unemployment benefits.

January 09 2011 at 11:20 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
TabraStaro

It's all hogwash. 17% percent unemployment. Check those pantry lines. There must be ten people to every person in the soup lines of the last depression. We are in a deep depression that was caused by the bailout. Don't get me wrong. There are some very good CEOs. But Paulsen and Bernanke -- the ones who bankrupt Bear Streans and Goldman Saks -- aren't among them. They and their culprits did a good job bankrupting the economy. It's going to be interesting as to where we go from here. Just how bad is it going to get? Where did these idiots get their degrees? Those schools should be closed!

January 17 2011 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
socioeconomist1

In order to shave off 0.6% unemployment, then 1.5 million jobs would have needed to be created.... and besides all that.... this is a telephone survey of 50,000 homes, not a real statistic

January 08 2011 at 2:07 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
harjacobhar

again, part of the problem is many many of the unemployed right now are above 50 and terrified of learning a new skill. As manufacturing jobs leave, unless we are in a position to spend (which is what everyone is crying about) to retrain these workers, not much will change for them. Perhaps we should consider retirement packages for this individuals who are caught in the crossfire.

January 08 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hyper916

someone needs to tell the mainstream media, the only reason why unemployment drop was 1.4 americans have lost their unemployment insurance in dec and they no longer counted amoung the unemployed now. Fact is after 2 years on the job or should I say after 2 years of loafing in the job, Obama still has negative number when comes to creating jobs

January 08 2011 at 9:57 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to hyper916's comment
Trevor

Someone needs to tell AOL posters that collecting unemployment benefits (or not cellecting unemployment benefits) has nothing to do with these numbers.

January 08 2011 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
harjacobhar

not to mention 1.4 americans did not drop off the unemployment compensation roles. there benefits were delayed pending the lameduck vote.

January 08 2011 at 1:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mail is here

As the huge number of baby boomers who retire this year and in the next few years, the unemployment rate should decrease dramatically. Fewer younger workers vs the large number of retiring baby boomers.

January 08 2011 at 8:53 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tkobran

Great news....but, many, if not most of these jobs were holiday retail hires. January numbers, released in Feb., will be a better indication. I hope this is the start of the end of the recession.

January 07 2011 at 11:52 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tkobran's comment
harjacobhar

I hope right along side of you. I am tired of people wanting to destroy hope even in small doses, just to one up our president. its ugly.

January 08 2011 at 1:17 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Mule Skinner

Failure also to mention re-hiring of laid off employees. Rather cancels out quite a few. Not to mention folks entering job search, and the ones that took the tax-payer addition to thier couch-potato outlook.

January 07 2011 at 9:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mary

9.4 % UNEMPLOYMENT IN DECEMBER AND THEY ARE PATTING THEMSELVES ON THE BACK.THERE MAY BE A REASON WHY? HIRING FOR THE CHRISTMAS RUSH!!JANUARY NUMBERS WILL BE BACK AT 9.8% OR HIGHER BECAUSE COMPANIES THIN OUT THEIR EMPLOYEES WHEN BUSINESS SLOWS!AND THE RETAIL MARKET DOESN'T NEED UNNESSARY EMPLOYEES HANGING AROUND AND DOING NOTHING. YOU DON'T MAKE MONEY THAT WAY!!!!

January 07 2011 at 8:29 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mary's comment
Trevor

Who is the "they" that you imagine are patting themselves on teh back?

January 08 2011 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
harjacobhar

lets hope that is not true. I am sure some of it is exactly that. But whether we want to give credit or not is not the issue. lets hope that 2011 brings prosperity to those who fell victim to this recession our president adopted, not caused.

January 08 2011 at 1:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply