Jobless Rate Drops to 7.7% as 146,000 Jobs Added

Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

The nation’s jobless rate dropped to 7.7 % in November—down from October’s 7.9% and the lowest level since December 2008—as the economy added 146,000 new jobs last month, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The 146,000 jobs created reflect 33 straight months of positive job growth.

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Heidi Shierholz, says the job growth figures, “represent an underlying trend of middling job growth.” 

This kind of growth rate is enough to hold our ground but not much more.  (In particular, the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.7% percent in November did not happen for “good” reasons – it was due to workers dropping out of the labor force rather than to unemployed workers finding work.)…The November data provide a clear reminder that mass joblessness remains the real and present economic danger this country faces.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that while the drop in unemployment is welcome news, “we remain a long way from full employment.”

It is more important than ever that we build on existing momentum, and not allow Republicans in Congress to undermine the economy’s recovery.  President Obama’s leadership has put our country on the long road back to shared prosperity.  Remember that four years ago this month, as the Bush presidency wound down, the economy hemorrhaged 803,000 jobs in November alone.

He also said, “The last thing the economy needs is more tax rate cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans or cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits.”

The President and Congress should reject any “grand bargain” that falls short and puts working families’ security at risk.

Read his full statement.

The biggest job gains were in retail trade (53,000 jobs), professional and business services (43,000 jobs) and health care (20,000). But construction employment decreased 20,000 jobs and manufacturing employment saw little change.

Jobless rate for adult men was 7.2%—down from last month’s 7.3%—and for adult women, 7%, down from 7.2 in November. The unemployment rate for African American workers dropped to 13.2% down from 14.3% last month.  The jobless rate for teenagers (23.5%) and Hispanics (10%) showed little change from the previous month, while unemployment for white workers dropped slightly from 7% in October to 6.8%.

The number of long-term unemployed (those who are jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined to 4.8 million down from October’s 5 million.

BLS reports that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November.