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Despite Sandy, Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.7%, Best Since December 2008

| December 7, 2012

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After Hurricane Sandy immobilized the Northeast and parts of the Midwest and affected half the country’s continental states, economists had predicted that November’s jobs figures would be poor, at best, with a consensus estimate of 86,000 net jobs created. Instead, the economy added 146,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, its lowest level since December 2008, when George W. Bush was still president and the economy was losing jobs by the hundreds of thousands.

Today’s jobs report is the first since the re-election of Barack Obama. It carries much less political significance than its several predecessors leading up to November’s election. But it returns the focus to its economic significance. In that sense, the figures, while brighter than expected, remain more anemic than necessary for a robust recovery. The job-creation figures for September and October were revised downward by a combined 49,000, so that the last three months’ job creation was 416,000, as opposed to 465,000. And November’s numbers are still well below the 170,000 average for each of the summer months.

Underlying trends also don’t point to an economy shaking out of its lethargy. The labor force participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points, to 63.6 percent, erasing the 0.2 percent increase in November. The participation rate is an indication of workers’ willingness to return to the labor force, and can be a barometer of optimism (or pessimism). While Sandy may have affected the participation rate, November was also the beginning of the Christmas season, when retailers add jobs. Retail trade did increase, by 53,000 jobs, a solid but not impressive number.

On the other hand, the U-6 measure of unemployment–a more broadly accurate reflection of the unemployment situation, because it includes discouraged workers and those working part-time against their will, because they can’t find full-time work–improved by 0.2 points, falling to 14.4 percent. A year ago, it was at 15.6 percent.

Some highlights: Aside from retail, employment in professional and business services rose by 43,000. Health care employment increased by 20,000, with gains in hospitals (8,000) and in nursing care facilities (5,000). Health care has added an average of 26,000 jobs a month this year. Employment in wholesale trade edged up by 13,000, information by 12,000, with the increase concentrated in motion picture and sound recording (15,000), and leisure and hospitality employment added 23,000.

On the negative side, construction lost 20,000, while manufacturing was flat. Employment in mining and logging, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and government, showed little change in November.

The average workweek for all employees remained at 34.4 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.6 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.2 hours. Average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents to $23.63.

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8 Responses for “Despite Sandy, Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.7%, Best Since December 2008”

  1. Angela Smith says:

    I’ll wait to celebrate when the jobs make it to FLORIDA!

  2. Donna Heiss says:

    Didn’t they get the memo that Clear Channel just had a huge layoff yesterday? Oh right! They had to release this info before the Christmas layoffs.

  3. JoJo2 says:

    Exactly, this is due to the Christmas hiring only. Most will be left go in the early months next year. Not an economist or a weatherman but you don’t need to be to know which way the wind is blowing.

  4. Stevie says:

    “Same old, same old. The government managed to get the unemployment rate down by shrinking the labor force and convincing a lot of people they’re better off collecting unemployment benefits or living off welfare than working,” said Peter Schiff, CEO and chief global strategist at Euro Pacific Capital. “It’s more bogus government numbers.”

    Where is new economic activity going to come from?

    How can this be???? Everything is beautiful!!!!

  5. tulip says:

    I would think that after Sandy, and other disasters we’ve recently had , would “create” more jobs.

    Construction people, electricians, plumbers, etc. needed to rebuild homes, businesses and infrastructure.
    More cars need to be produced to replace the ones lost in storms
    More salespeople for stores that sell homegoods, furniture, etc.

  6. Scrooge says:

    Ho Ho Ho…..Santa needed lots of elves to help make all the shopping mall stores more money. You know, the FREE obama money that is given to 47% of the American population to LAZY to look for work. Now Dancer, now Prancer up over “the cliff”, quick now reindeer before Reid and Piglosi steal your Xmas gifts !!!

  7. Mario DiGirolamo says:

    I do not believe any of these #’s. FL has to be in double digits. At least in Flagler County.

  8. John Boy says:

    Paranoia is a medical condition covered by Obama Care, Tea Baggers get the help you need.

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