United States: Unemployment falls to 9.4% in December
January 7, 2011
In December, the economy added 103,000 jobs, after an increase of 71,000 in November (previously reported: +39,000 jobs). The figure presented a downside surprise for private sector analysts, who had expected job gains of 160,000. Despite the weaker-than-expected reading, higher payrolls in December were sufficient to push the unemployment rate down from 9.8% in November to 9.4%, the lowest print since May 2009. The December reading reflected strong private sector hiring, as private non-farm payrolls increased by 113,000 units, up from a 79,000 boost in November. Meanwhile, the public sector cut 10,000 jobs in December, following the shedding of 8,000 jobs in the previous month. The economy lost an accumulated 8.3 million jobs between December 2007 ? the official start of the recession ? and December 2009. The tentative economic recovery witnessed over 2010 saw just 1.1 million jobs added, indicating that the U.S. labour market remains fragile. Finally, the average unemployment rate for the year was 9.6%, slightly above the 9.3% rate observed in 2009 but nearing double of the long-term average of 5.7%.