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Why Unemployment Dropped in November

Temporary holiday jobs are part of why unemployment figures dropped in November. Out of the 120,000 new non-farm jobs, 50,000 were retail, which indicates many of these positions are likely short-term. Since the holiday season started early this year, economists predict there will also be less retail hires in December.

The report shows a promising overall drop in unemployment: 9 percent last month to 8.6 percent this month. But as the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee note, there is one big troubling trend here. An estimated 315,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force in November, which means they haven’t found jobs, they’ve just stopped looking:

Had labor force participation remained steady, the jobless rate would have dropped to 8.8 percent, according to Citigroup calculations. If the labor force had followed trend growth, unemployment would be at 8.9 percent.

Here’s an even bleaker statistic from James Pethokoukis: “If the the labor force participation rate were back at its January 2009 level, the U-3 rate would be 11.0 percent.”

The labor participation rate dropped to 64 percent, from 64.2 percent in October. The number of long-term unemployed – people out of work for over 27 weeks – also increased to 43 percent, from 42.4 percent. Which means we’re seeing more people who are out of work for longer, and who are more likely to become frustrated enough to drop out of the labor force altogether.


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