Friday, January 6, 2012

Unemployment Drops to 8.5% on 200,000 New Jobs

The U.S. economy created 200,000 jobs in December, prompting the unemployment rate to continue to fall to 8.5%. The private sector created 212,000 jobs, while the public sector continued to drag shedding 12,000 jobs. Job gains came primarily from the transportation and warehousing, retail trade, manufacturing, healthcare, and mining sectors.

Payroll growth of 200,000 is the strongest level since September and well above the 2011 average of 136,000. The private sector continues to drive job gains, despite a persistent public sector drag. The private sector has created jobs for 22 straight months. Continuing with recent trends, the service sector is the primary driver behind the private job growth. The goods sector growth was strong as well at 48,000, its highest level since July.

The unemployment rate was revised for the previous year, as is done every December. November’s unemployment rate was revised up slightly to 8.7%. The current unemployment rate of 8.5% is the lowest level since February 2009. The labor force participation rate held steady at 64.0%

ABA’s Chief Economist James Chessen commented, “today’s report shows signs of steady progress and improvements in job availability. However, we still have a long way to go as there remain a number of discouraged workers that will reenter the labor force once conditions improve.”

Read the report.

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