Official unemployment rate hits 5 year low

This is actually the best jobs report we've had in a long while. The benchmark unemployment rate dropped to 7.0% from 7.3%.

The number of jobs created is still paltry; the labor participation rate dropped - but you'd hardly notice; and the numbers are slightly skewed because federal workers, counted as unemployed last month during the shutdown, came back to work.

But 200,000 jobs on the plus side means that a few more Americans are going to have a merry Christmas.


The unemployment rate dropped three tenths of a percentage point to its lowest level since November 2008 as some federal workers who were counted as jobless in October returned to work after a 16-day partial shutdown of the government.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls rising only 180,000 last month and the unemployment rate falling to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent.

Job gains for September and October were revised to show 8,000 more jobs created than previously reported, lending more strength to the report. Other details were also upbeat, with employment gains across the board, average hourly earnings rising and the workweek lengthening.

In addition, the jobless rate fell even as the participation rate - the share of working-age Americans who either have a job or are looking for one - bounced back from a 35-1/2-year low touched in October.

The closely watched employment report was released little more than a week before the Fed's December 17-18 policy-setting meeting.

The stronger-than-expected reading on job growth in November could stir speculation the central bank might reduce its current pace of bond purchases this month, but most economists feel the Fed will want further signs of economic progress before acting.

"The U.S. labor market is still far from healed, but it certainly is moving in the right direction. This number puts a December taper on the table, but it isn't a certainty," said Eric Stein, portfolio manager at Eaton Vance Investment Managers in Boston.

We've been hearing this for years now; the labor market stinks but its better than it was. How long are we going to use the recession as an excuse for high unemployemnt? At some point, the economic policies of the government have to take the blame for the US still being mired in a recession.

Don't hold your breath it will happen anytime soon.

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