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New jobless rate: 10 percent, a tick down

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Below, release from the Labor Department....

The unemployment rate edged down to 10.0 percent in November, and nonfarm
payroll employment was essentially unchanged (-11,000), the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. In the prior 3 months, payroll job losses
had averaged 135,000 a month. In November, employment fell in construction,
manufacturing, and information, while temporary help services and health care
added jobs.

Household Survey Data

In November, both the number of unemployed persons, at 15.4 million, and the
unemployment rate, at 10.0 percent, edged down. At the start of the recession
in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons was 7.5 million, and the
jobless rate was 4.9 percent. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates for adult men (10.5 per-
cent), adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (26.7 percent), whites (9.3 per-
cent), blacks (15.6 percent), and Hispanics (12.7 percent) showed little
change in November. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.3 percent, not
seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed tem-
porary jobs fell by 463,000 in November. The number of long-term unemployed
(those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 293,000 to 5.9 million. The
percentage of unemployed persons jobless for 27 weeks or more increased by
2.7 percentage points to 38.3 percent. (See tables A-8 and A-9.)

The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed in November at
65.0 percent. The employment-population ratio was unchanged at 58.5 percent.
(See table A-1.)

The number of people working part time for economic reasons (sometimes re-
ferred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in November
at 9.2 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours
had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See
table A-5.)

About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in
November, an increase of 376,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not sea-
sonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and
were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12
months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched
for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-13.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 861,000 discouraged workers in
November, up from 608,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally ad-
justed.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work be-
cause they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 mil-
lion persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for
work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attend-
ance or family responsibilities.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in November
(-11,000). Job losses in the construction, manufacturing, and information
industries were offset by job gains in temporary help services and health
care. Since the recession began, payroll employment has decreased by 7.2
million. (See table B-1.)

Construction employment declined by 27,000 over the month. Job losses had
averaged 117,000 per month during the 6 months ending in April and 63,000
per month from May through October. In November, construction job losses
were concentrated among nonresidential specialty trade contractors

Manufacturing employment fell by 41,000 in November. The average monthly
decline for the past 5 months (-46,000) was much lower than the average
monthly job loss for the first half of this year (-171,000). About 2.1 mil-
lion manufacturing jobs have been lost since December 2007; the majority of
this decline has occurred in durable goods manufacturing (-1.6 million).

Employment in the information industry fell by 17,000 in November. About
half of the job loss occurred in its telecommunications component (-9,000).

There was little change in wholesale and retail trade employment in November.
Within retail trade, department stores added 8,000 jobs over the month.

The number of jobs in transportation and warehousing, financial activities,
and leisure and hospitality showed little change over the month.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 86,000 in November.
Temporary help services accounted for the majority of the increase, adding
52,000 jobs. Since July, temporary help services employment has risen by

Health care employment continued to rise in November (21,000), with not-
able gains in home health care services (7,000) and hospitals (7,000). The
health care industry has added 613,000 jobs since the recession began in
December 2007.

In November, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers
on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 0.2 hour to 33.2 hours. The manufacturing
workweek increased by 0.3 hour to 40.4 hours. Factory overtime rose by 0.1
hour to 3.4 hours. Since May, the manufacturing workweek has increased by
1.0 hour. (See table B-2.)

In November, average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers
on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 1 cent, or 0.1 percent, to $18.74.
Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent,
while average weekly earnings have risen by 1.6 percent. (See table B-3.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised from
-219,000 to -139,000, and the change for October was revised from -190,000 to

The Employment Situation for December is scheduled to be released on Friday,
January 8, 2010, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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