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U.S. unemployment rate for December dropped to 9.4%

But nobody’s cheering….

The Employment Situation Summary for December 2010 was released yesterday  by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The number of unemployed people dropped by 556,000 to 14.5 million in December, and the unemployment rate fell to 9.4%. Over the course of the year, these numbers were DOWN from 15.2 million and 9.9%. Unemployment rate data for 2010 was seasonally revised for January 2010 through November 2010 in a table within the report. Employment rose in leisure and hospitality (serving the rich? :-) ) and in health care (serving the sick) but was little changed in other major industries.

The original report for November showed 9.8% unemployment. California’s unemployment in November was holding at 12.4%.

The report discussed employment for the major worker groups:

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (9.4 percent) and whites (8.5 percent) declined in December. The unemployment rates for adult women (8.1 percent), teenagers (25.4 percent), blacks (15.8 percent), and Hispanics (13.0 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.2 percent, not seasonally adjusted.

The number of long-term (27 weeks or more) unemployed was little changed at 6.4 million and represented 44.3% of the unemployed. The civilian labor force participation rate decreased slightly to 64.3% in December. The employment-population ratio was pretty much unchanged at 58.3%.

Those who are employed part-time for economic reasons (often called “involuntary part-time workers) stayed almost the same at 8.9 million in December. These folks worked part-time because their hours had been reduced or because they could not find a full-time job.

There were also around 2.6 million workers “marginally attached to the workforce, about the same as a YEAR ago! They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks that preceeded the survey. This group included 1.3 million discouraged workers, UP by 389,000 from December 2009! Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million folks in this group had not searched for work during the four weeks before the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

“Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 103,000 in December. Employment rose in leisure and hospitality and in health care but changed little in other major industries. Since December 2009, total payroll employment has increased by 1.1 million, or an average of 94,000 per month. (See table B-1.)

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 47,000 in December. Within the industry, job gains continued in food services and drinking places (+25,000). Since a recent low in December 2009, the food services industry has added 188,000 jobs.

In December, health care employment continued to expand, with a gain of 36,000. Over the month, job gains continued in ambulatory services (+21,000), hospitals (+8,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+7,000).

Within professional and business services, employment in temporary help services continued to trend up in December (+16,000) and has risen by 495,000 since a recent low in September 2009.

Employment in retail trade changed little in December (+12,000). A job gain in motor vehicle and parts dealers (+8,000) offset a loss in health and personal care stores (-8,000). Employment in most other service-providing industries changed little over the month.

In the goods-producing sector, mining employment continued to trend up in December, reflecting a job gain in support activities for mining (+5,000).

Manufacturing employment changed little over the month (+10,000). Following job growth earlier in 2010, employment has been relatively flat, on net, since May <emphasis mine>. Construction employment also was little changed overall in December (-16,000). Within construction, there were job losses in heavy and civil engineering (-13,000) and in residential building (-6,000).”

Sooooo…. it looks like employment this year has been relatively flat since May. Read my blog entry from last night to see how this economic reality has affected the opinions of the unemployed.

-Bill at

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