Labor force dropouts were entirely responsible for the November decline in the unemployment rate to 7.7 Percent

EXPERT COMMENTARY

Labor force dropouts were entirely responsible for the November decline in the unemployment rate to 7.7 Percent

By Keith Hall |
Dec 07, 2012

“There were no obvious signs of labor market slowdown in today’s employment report as is showed modest job growth in November (146,000), roughly in line with the past five month average of 158,000 jobs.  Other recent economic data had showed some signs that economic policy uncertainty, particularly the fiscal cliff, might cause businesses to pull back in hiring.

“Disengagement from the labor force does continue to be a problem as participation dropped from 63.8% to 63.6%.  Participation remains at a very low level and has dropped by 0.4 percentage point so far this year.  Labor force dropouts were entirely responsible for the November decline in the unemployment rate to 7.7%. This widespread disengagement plus the fact that 40% of unemployed have been job hunting for over six months will make for a very, very long road to full labor market recovery.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that ‘Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November.’  Even hours worked appeared little affected as the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.4 hours in November.  The last time the bureau noted a weather impact on payroll jobs was February of 2010 when the Mid-Atlantic’s “Snowmageddon” forced 1.1 million people to be absent from work the entire week of data collection.

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