A rather mixed bag on the unemployment picture just released this morning. Hiring numbers were down, but so was the unemployment rate.
The U.S. gained 120,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.6% from 9.0%, the Labor Department said Friday. The government also revised jobs data for October and September to show that 72,000 additional jobs were created. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 125,000 increase in employment in November and no change in the jobless rate. About half of the drop in the unemployment rate stemmed from a decline in the number of workers in the labor force. Hiring in October was revised up to 100,000 from 80,000 and the job gains in September were revised up to 210,00 from 158,000. In November, companies in the private sector hired 140,000 workers, with retailers adding 50,000.
So fewer people are in the work force and unemployment falls. Interpret this as people giving up looking for work.
What explains the discrepancy? Basically a big drop in labor-force participation rate.
Of course this will be hailed as a magnificent performance by Obama. Expect the numbers to be massaged monthly so it appear unemployment is at or below 8% by November 2012.
Update: It appears this “unexpected” plunge to 8.6% will be temporary.
The nation’s unemployment rate, however, fell sharply to 8.6% from 9% in October. There was an unusually big drop in the number of people who reported being out of work. Many jobless people may have quit looking for jobs, and thus wouldn’t have been counted as officially unemployed. Analysts expect the jobless figure to climb back up next month.