Labor Department Reports 200,000 New Jobs Were Added Last Month

In a sign that perhaps the U.S. economy is finally chugging forward like the little engine that could, the Labor Department announced today that 200,000 new jobs were added last month.

The New York Times says that the national unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in December, from 8.7 percent in November when 120,000 new jobs were created.

December seemed to be a happy and encouraging month so far as economic news went, as consumers were more confident, manufacturing did well and small businesses proved they were still hanging in there with the big boys. It was also the sixth month in a row that 100,000 or more jobs were added.

After a rough summer for the economy, with the debt ceiling debate always looming and natural disasters around the world, experts had been hesitant to hail any upward movement too heartily, for fear of slowing the economic recovery.

And it’s still not time for a raging celebratory party yet.The unemployment rate still needs to be lowered quite a lot, which means even more jobs must be created. And important extensions to the payroll tax break and unemployment benefits are also necessary to boost family’s spending and continue to fuel the economy.

But let’s be cheered where we can, right? As Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics told the NYT, “This is the real thing. This is finally the economy throwing off the shackles of the credit crunch.”

Economy Gains Steam as 200,000 New Jobs Added [New York Times]

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  1. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    This is all Obama’s faul… oh, wait…

    • rushevents says:

      funny thing though, the new reported today that unemployment went up a notch in Dec from 8.6 to 8.7.

      So they may have added 200,000 “new” jobs (many seasonal) but they still lost in the overall jobs number.

      But the administration, desperate for any good news it can find, touts “200,000 new jobs created in December!”

      All spin.

      • PSUSkier says:

        Technically, I feel this is also good news. It means those that bowed out of the job search (and therefore the unemployment statistics) are coming back into the game. While granted it is all a spin game, overall this is solid good news.

      • syphonblue says:

        Uh no. The unemployment rate dropped from 8.7 to 8.5

        But Republicans desperate for anything at all, continue making shit up and lying.

        • dangermike says:

          Kind of like how in november, everyone was all enthused over the rate falling to 8.6% with 120,000 jobs added where it was just revised to 8.7 and 100,000, respectively?

          If we take these numbers as gospel, and take into consideration population dynamics and demographics, we would see that the 300,000 jobs added in the past two months falls short of the 500,000 new Americans. If we look at the ratio of new jobs to new people, it’s about a 60% rate. But the labor force (currently at its smallest since 1984), is about 65% of the population. This defines a trend of contraction.

          This is confirmed by data from the report, which indicates that while there were 176,000 new jobs created in December, there are 226,000 people no longer counted as part of the labor force. That’s 50,000 people that are no longer counted — even as U-6 — that do not have work.

          Don’t believe sound bites. Think for yourself. Question authority.

          • dangermike says:

            oops, I meant that’s a net loss of 50,000 jobs, even as the rate shows a decrease. /need coffee

      • SeattleSeven says:

        “net gain”

        Feel free to read the article and then come back and correct your post.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        Unemployment numbers get seasonally adjusted. I doubt these are actually the raw numbers if they’re doing the unemployment percentages off of them.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Almost back to where we started. $5 trillion later.

  2. sponica says:

    I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but are there numbers on how many of those were seasonal retail positions that probably don’t exist anymore?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      In general, employment numbers are typically adjusted for seasonal employment.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I’ve never seen these numbers not listed as “seasonally adjusted.” If this is the exception, I would be shocked.

      • sponica says:

        one of the earlier news reports I read said that the numbers might be revised depending on the seasonal adjustments

        of course some retail seasonal work lasts through mid jan or valentines day depending on the company

        • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

          I think people are underestimating how many times these get revised.

          The numbers are almost always released already seasonally adjusted. Otherwise we’d have “OMGZ A RECESSION” stories every September and January when people quit their summer and holiday jobs.

          After that, because the USA is kinda big, they review and revise the numbers for the previous two (maybe three?) months with fuller data. Sometimes they’re revised higher, sometimes they’re revised lower.

          And no, it’s not a conspiracy to make us feel good. Almost every story about the economy, except the ticker at the bottom of cable news networks, quotes those numbers.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      The numbers are always revised later. Always. If it’s good news, the revision will be announced on a Monday morning so it makes the news for the first of the week. If it’s bad news, the revision will be announced quietly late on a Friday afternoon, preferably just before a 3-day weekend.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      I’ve been wondering about that. I left my seasonal retail job last week and I noticed that the schedule for the following week had everyone on way reduced hours, with six people listed as having no hours at all. That time of year.

    • dangermike says:

      Unemployment figures are supposedly corrected for seasonal periodic effects. However, what the headlines aren’t reporting is that those counted as members of the labor force is at the lowest point since 1984. The decrease in the unemployment rate is much more due to smaller pool than than any huge number of new jobs.

  3. Costner says:

    I heard somewhere we would need to add closer to 2M jobs a month in order to get back to “normal”. If that is true… we have a long way to go.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I heard somewhere that that pigs fly.

      • Costner says:

        Ok I realized that was probably pretty stupid of me since I could just google it. I searched and depending upon the source it looks like we need to add anywhere from 6M to 10M jobs to get back to where we were, so 2M a month would be way high…. at least over the long term.

        This article shows that we would need to add 150k to 200k a month to keep the unemployment rate flat: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/06/how-many-jobs-should-we-be-adding-each-month/

        However, a flat unemployment rate isn’t good enough until we are back to 4% or 5% unemployment, so I’d say we should be adding anywhere from 300k to 500k a month. More is better, but anything above 200k is a step in the right direction.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Thanks for the info. Normally you are quite informative and well-versed in the topic, or become so before you speak. So, I thought I would make fun of your very out-of-character comment.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Even with improving unemployment numbers, I wonder if we’ll ever get back to where we were 10 years ago, let alone 20 or 30. It seems like virtually everyone I know has taken salary cuts, is paying significantly more for insurance, and dealing with much less generous retirement fund matches.

          It’s almost mind boggling that when I was a kid, my family lived off of one income (my dad worked at a mill), had free health care, and my dad had access to a defined benefit pension. It all fell apart when the mill closed ca. 1982 but it’s almost hard to believe that quality of life was available in western PA for a regular family.

    • lehrdude says:

      I saw this morning that we won’t be at pre-recession unemployment numbers (4.6%) until sometime in 2016…

    • headhot says:

      There were about 7.9 million job lost in the recession, with peak unemployment at 10.2% in Jan 2010. With some simple math, that means at the peak there were 77.5m jobs.
      Now we are at 8.5%, which means we are now at a net loss of 6.5m. That means we have added 1.4m jobs since Jan 2010.
      To get back where we where in 1 year, we would have to add 541,000 jobs a month. That would take us to 4.2% unemployment. Thats a historically really low unemployment number, and probably unrealistic because it was achieved during a massive set of bubbles.

      • dangermike says:

        Don’t forget to factor in population growth. It takes something like 200,000 jobs per month just to break even.

        • headhot says:

          Pop growth has been flat, due to immigrants (illegal or otherwise) leaving.

          • dangermike says:

            Disagree. The rate of population growth has slowed but it is still growing. Something to the tune of one and half to two million last year.

  4. SkokieGuy says:

    And the drop in the unemployment rate would have been far higher, if lost government jobs didn’t offset some of the gains of private sector jobs.

    Gee, maybe slashing taxes and government and state give-aways to corporations resulting in budget deficits and layoffs of government worker isn’t a good idea?

    Gee, maybe some sort of wacky, crazy idea for the government to hire (or prevent layoffs) of government workers like teachers, firefighters and cops might be a good idea?

    Gee, maybe this is a great time to, you know, rebuild our infrastructure? Rebuild our failing bridges, antiquated electrical grid, rural internet access, crumbling schools?

    Hmmmn, well at the very least, should Congress discuss and debate a jobs bill to increase government hiring?

    Nah – let’s just spend our time voting to ban abortion (again) and declaring “In God we Trust” our national motto (again).

    And let’s not forget, our Congress DID debate and vote on light bulbs! So don’t you dare call them dysfunctional.

    Rant over

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      +1

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      A lot of economic experts said a slump is the best time to do as you describes. It’s the good times where we need to wean outselves down from big government and spending, and the bad times is when we need to pump money into the economy.

      It’s pretty obvious from a logical standpoint, but unfotunately human nature is often counter-intuitive.

      • sponica says:

        my favorite story was from someone waiting in line at the town hall to register their car…the line was long and people were complaining about the low staffing level and decreased hrs of operation and in the SAME sentence complained about how every year the town hall asks for an increase in funding to to keep funding levels nominal

        ok people when you vote to slash funding for services, you realize that services WILL be cut…

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          In my area, the biggest complaint is how taxes keep going up, year after year while the quality of services continues to deteriorate.

          It’s tough when the population declines but service requirements increase from aging infrastructure, additional fires, and more crime. At a certain point, you can only tax people so much, and the remaining citizens with an earned income start jumping ship and moving to the suburbs.

          • sponica says:

            I LIVE in the suburbs….granted I live in a weird one. we’d much rather have a dumpy library and raid the trust fund that had a couple million to build a new one than pay an extra hundredth of a cent per 1000 dollars of property valuations. my suburb is home rule on steroids, residents have a high level of control of how much the town portion of the property taxes can increase…

            the suburbs ain’t much better than the city in my opinion….although my opinion doesn’t count because I don’t pay property taxes. if the US Constitution didn’t give me the right to vote, I’m fairly certain my town/state would only allow property owners to vote (as they’re the only people in my state who pay taxes)

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        That’s what Keynes espoused. However, no one wants to do what he said governments should do in the good time… cut spending, cut taxes and run surpluses to pay off/save up for the next downturn.

        • SkokieGuy says:

          So are you saying that giving a “refund” (tax cut) of a budget surplus might be a bad idea?

          I bet you probably think that that continuing the refund while we’re at war might be a bad idea?

          I bet you think continuing to extend the refund after all the money is gone might be a really, really bad idea?

          • TuxthePenguin says:

            It depends on whether you believe Keynes and his economic theories. The other major economic theory is to run as small of a deficit or surplus as possible, using both taxes and spending to adjust.

            The funny thing is, if Bush had controlled spending and not let it increase as much as it did, he would have run surpluses once the economy recovered…

      • Skyhawk says:

        From which magical tree does that money come from, if not taken out of the economy to begin with?
        The government can’t ‘pump money into the economy’ without taking it out, first.

        And when you factor in the cost of bureaucracy, the net effect to the economy is less than not taking it out in the first place.

        And, if you’re talking about just printing money, well, you reduce the value of every dollar by the exact same amount.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      Just to clarify: “….ban [Federal funding for] abortion….”

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “Gee, maybe some sort of wacky, crazy idea for the government to hire (or prevent layoffs) of government workers like teachers, firefighters and cops might be a good idea?”

      In my area, we really have no choice but to institute layoffs. We have a limited and shrinking tax base, a shrinking economy from de-industrialization (two more steel mills just shut down), and increased pension/health insurance costs for retirees. We just had an emergency mid-year 30% increase in local taxes that goes 100% towards pensions because a state audit revealed that we were $4 million in the hole (out of a $40 million budget). Cutting the police when crime is rampant is completely ludicrous, same thing with cutting the fire department when we have one of the highest rates of fire in the country but there simply isn’t money for either.

      As much as I hate it, there’s truly no alternative but to layoff current city employees. Post-industrial cities with 40% population loss just don’t have the means to operate under ideal circumstances.

      My city is fundamentally broken, just like thousands of other ones in the northeast and midwest. I imagine we’ll be moving to the ‘burbs in the coming years, just like everyone else.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        You can argue about a lot, but “increased pension/health insurance costs for retirees” is what is killing a BUNCH of municipalities. Turns out that the pension accounting that they’ve been using was using overinflated estimated returns… so when those 9% returns actually come in at 3%, you suddenly owe a lot more money. And add in to the fact that many municipalities weren’t even fully funding the pensions (as businesses used to do before they started dumping them) it compounds the problem.

        Pension are great ideas… but only if the people providing them actually fund them correctly. Otherwise they become a huge issue for the taxpayer.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Yup, that’s why we got the $4 million surprise and are getting special “temporary” tax surcharges in the mail. In the coming years, over 50% of our budget will be going towards retiree costs. We’re already paying more for pensions and health care for past workers than we are for current ones. Taxes can only go up so much to pay for it.

          Receivership will be unpleasant and I hope to leave town well before that happens.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      The general problem that we’re not really discussing is that you’re mixing state, local and federal responsibilities together. The federal government has no say in what the states do to attract and keep businesses (remember IL raised its state corporate income taxes? Yeah, it then gave tax breaks to keep companies from relocating out of state… great idea, huh?) Teachers, Firefighters and cops are state and local items – why should the federal government fund those? I can see in a case of a real emergency, but it seems more and more some just want to give piles of cash to states to pay for that.
      Much of the same goes for much of the infrastructure you mention – I can see rural internet access being a federal project as some states are almost entirely rural (Montana) and might not be able to afford it, but crumbling schools? If a local school district doesn’t want to spend the money to keep their schools in repair, why should the federal government bail them out? Heck, the states should first. Yes, there are poor school districts, but we spend more on education now than we have ever… and our results aren’t much better. Perhaps the money is being spent on things that aren’t what is really needed. How many administrators/admin staff are there compared to teaching staff and how has that ratio changed? Both on a per capita basis as well as a salary/wage basis (i.e., do we have more admin than ever before and paying them more and more?)
      Unless we recognize that the federal government cannot do all of these things and remove those arguments, we’re never going to get anywhere. And then we need to look at efficiency and effectiveness… giving someone more money to do their job isn’t necessary going to mean they do it better. That goes for people as well as organizations…

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        “but we spend more on education now than we have ever”

        It’s called inflation – it’s true with most things. Unless you meant we spend more in relation to the total taxes spent. I don’t know.

        But I agree on the admin education staff getting paid too much. My fiance is currently working at a school that has had 4 principals in the last 3 years. They are all terrible. Yet they all make 6 figures. I feel I could do a better job and would take a pay cut to get the job. I’d still be making bank, and would feel like I was doing more good than my current job.

        Education need a significant, and dare I say national-level, reform.

        • MutantMonkey says:

          I agree. And it needs to be created by a panel of experts with no interference from politicians that can weasel there way into the construction and have elements adjusted to meet their plans.

          It needs to be created with a goal of constantly producing a large pool of intelligent individuals. None of this neutered or restricted systems that hold back individuals.

          Neither your typical Dem or Repub have a clue as to what the education system should look like therefore they should no say in what it should consist of.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          Even adjusting for inflation, we’re spending more per student than ever before.

      • NoLongerALurker says:

        THIS

        There is actually a lot of money going into the school system but it isn’t ending up where it needs to be.

        I speak from personal experience.

        Literally while the District Office was putting in a new fountain my High School was being painted with *donated paint*. Not one wall matched. And this isn’t some inner city or rural area. This was the Silicon Valley.

        I would highly recommend watching a documentary called The Lottery (you can find it on Netflix Instant streaming) which a is “penetrating look at public education in America” that “follows four children through the highs and lows of a life-changing lottery, where the prize is a spot in one of New York City’s best charter schools. ” It’s quite eye opening.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Then why shouldn’t government hire everyone? If it’s so great to hire more government workers, then shouldn’t the government create 200 million jobs and hire everyone?

      Kind of like if minimum wage is so great, why not make it $100/hr?

      Oh, and your man Obama ran on a platform of infrastructure rebuilding and had both houses of congress for his first 2 years to push through all the infrastructure rebuilding projects they wanted. So do a little research and tell me how all that worked out.

      • Wyldemusick says:

        *sigh* And your bunch of morons on the right used the filibuster more often than ever before (more than several years combined) to keep things paralyzed during the two years when there was a Dem majority in both houses. The Rampaged Republican Looney Parade needs a political bloody nose for their behavior in trying to trash the country.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          So you’re telling me that this post-partisan President, the one who said he would work past petty political differences couldn’t find a way to sway two or three Republicans to support his bills? I mean, come on… Bush was able to do it. He didn’t always have a filibuster-proof majority…

  5. dolemite says:

    “Jeeves! Get in here!” “Yes, sir?” Jeeves…I can’t get out of this room with all these bags of money piled up to the ceiling. What can I do about it?” “Perhaps you could hire more workers…and perhaps give your currently overworked workers a break or maybe even compensation?” “Jeeves! I’ve got it! Why don’t I use some of these unbelievable profits to hire more workers!” “Brilliant sir!”

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      “Jeeves! You’re fired!”

      • bonzombiekitty says:

        More like “I know! I just need to build a shed to hold all the money! Jeeves! Build me the room! And then maintain it on top of all your other duties! Oh, and we’re going to have lay off Preston over there so I can afford to have you build the shed.”

  6. Wachusett says:

    The “unemployment rate” is only decreasing because the labor force used to calculate it has decreased by half a million people since the beginning of 2009.

    If not for that decrease, unemployment would be over 10%.

  7. vdestro says:

    Isn’t the “real” number (U6) around 16%, which includes this 8.5% plus those that gave up looking plus long term unemployed plus the under employed (ie, forced into a low paying part time job, a master degree-ed person working as a walmart greeter etc.)?

    • dangermike says:

      U-6 is the unemployed plus marginally attached workers as a percentage of labor force plus marginally attached workers. That is to say, it is an expression of not just job-seeking unemployed but temps and part-timers who would also rather be full-timers.

      As for “real,” the real fact is that the “labor force” is around 65% of Americans currently. This is the lowest it has been in almost 30 years. About 85% of those 65% are fully employed. The numbers in the past few months have been looking artificially good because millions of people are no longer being counted as part of the labor force.

  8. dangermike says:

    For a real breakdown of the report that actually analyzes the information rather than just vapidly putting forward spin or, worse yet, sound bites, go here: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/01/nonfarm-payroll-200000-labor-force.html

  9. mopman64 says:

    Maybe you should read the story about the labor cooking the books to make the numbers better.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/real-jobless-rate-114-realistic-labor-force-participation-rate