The United States added close to 200,000 jobs in the month of December, a sign of hope for the country in the coming months. As the country added jobs, the national unemployment rate dipped to 8.5 percent.
A reason for the drop in the unemployment rate was partially due to 50,000 Americans leaving the job force because they discontinued the search for a new job. The main reason for the dip in the unemployment rate is the fact that true progress occurred in the country’s drop market. Labor market experts were celebrating on Friday morning despite knowing that it will take 300 or 400 thousand jobs per month for quite some time to dig the country out of its labor hole.
“I think it’s a very positive report, unambiguously,” said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics. “Generally you have a lot of cross currents, but this suggests that the job market and the economy are gaining broader traction.”
Other numbers released include the increase of average hourly earnings by four cents and the average workweek increased by .1 hours to 34.4 hours per week.
“I thought the numbers were pretty darn good,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for The PNC Financial Services Group. “All of these new signs send the same positive signal about a real improvement.” Hoffman said.
The industries that saw job increases included manufacturing, retail, health care, mining and leisure and hospitality. Employment in the government sector lost only 12,000 jobs in December after shedding over 280,000 jobs over the previous year.
One dark spot is the fact that there are still over 5.5 million citizens who have been out of a job for six months or longer. This equates to 42.5 percent of all those unemployed. Of that number, 1.9 million workers have been without a job for 99 or more weeks.
“Let’s say you were a long-term unemployed steel worker from Ohio and you buckled under and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to work for Walmart for 9 dollars an hour’ — have your problems been solved?” John Schmitt, a senior economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said. “Are you no longer experiencing hardship in the labor market?”
Schmitt went on to say the following:
“The government’s count of the long-term unemployed is important, but it hides almost as much as it reveals,” Schmitt said.
Workers who have been out of work for the past few years will likely find it more difficult to find a new job now. One reason for this is that those workers have likely seen their job skills erode during their time out of work. Those workers have also likely seen their savings dwindle as well.
Hazel Feldman is living in New York City and has been unemployed since August of 2008. Feldman said, “It just goes on and on and on because there are no jobs. It’s not getting better, so it’s getting worse,” she said.