Unemployment Rate Falls to 9.4%: Sign of a Turnaround?
The economy added 103,000 jobs in December, according to the Labor Department, a number that falls below the expected figure of 150,000. Jobless rate falls from 9.8% to 9.4%, the lowest level since May of 2009, according to CNN. Overall, 2010 saw a total of 1.1 million jobs added, the best one-year gain in hiring since 2007.
So is this the first sign of a turnaround in the labor market?
Possibly. But economists noted that at least 300,000 jobs need to be added to make a change in the unemployment rate.
Since the start of the Great Recession, a total of 8.5 million jobs have been lost. In December, more than 14.5 million people were out of work, including 6.4 million who have been jobless for six months or longer.
Further, all of the 103,000 jobs created are in the private sector. The federal, state and local governments continued to lose jobs at a rate of 10,000 in December 2010 and 8,000 in November. It’s predicted that state and local municipalities will continue to shed jobs as they seek to control their deficits.
As a small case in point: Here in New Jersey, I’ve been struck by how impossible it seems for a recent college graduate to get a position—even a one-year leave-replacement position—-teaching in public schools. In the past few years, many of my students who have graduated with teaching credentials in hand are working as substitute teachers and/or in part-time positions at private (often religious schools), or not in schools at all. For today’s generation, getting an education degree is no longer a surefire route to a job.
Congress returned to Washington this week and the Republicans have made the economy and job creation a priority. With his recent choice of William Daley as White House Chief of Staff, President Obama seems to be sending a signal that he will be making the economy and employment his focus. Later today, the President is expected to announce the choice choice of Gene Sperling to replace Lawrence Summers as director of the National Economic Council, according to White House officials. Like Daley, Sperling has close ties to the banking industry. He made nearly $900,000 working part-time on a philanthropic project for Goldman Sachs, plus $150,000 giving speeches to financial firms
But as Steven Blitz, a senior economist for ITG Investment Research, is quoted in today’s New York Times:
“…will high unemployment be an enduring feature of the United States’ economy?”
Photo by a loves dc.