- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

UPDATED:

The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 10 percent in November from 10.2 percent in October, the Labor Department reported Friday morning. Payroll employment fell by just 11,000 workers, a significantly smaller decline than analysts expected.

Payrolls have now fallen for 23 months in a row since the recession began in December 2007.

Unemployment last month totaled 15.4 million workers, 325,000 fewer than in October. Before the jobless rate surpassed the 10 percent level in October, the U.S. economy had not experienced double-digit unemployment since 1983.

Since the recession began in December 2007, official Labor Department data reveal that employers have shed 7.2 million jobs. But that figure does not include an additional 824,000 jobs that were lost during the 12-month period ending last March. After that preliminary assessment is revised, it will be fully incorporated into Labor Department data when the report on the January employment situation is issued in February.

The unemployment rate for adult men fell by 0.2 percentage point to 10.5 percent last month, but it remained well above the jobless rate for adult women, which declined to 7.9 percent in November. The jobless rate for teenagers was 26.7 percent, down nearly a point.

Differentiated by race and ethnicity, unemployment rates in November were 9.3 percent for whites, 15.6 percent for blacks and 12.7 percent for people of Hispanic origin.

Construction and manufacturing jobs continued to plummet last month. The construction industry lost 27,000 jobs in November, and manufacturers shed 41,000. Meanwhile, 41,000 jobs were added in the education and health-services sector.

Since the recession began, the jobless rate has more than doubled, rising from 4.9 percent in December 2007 to 10 percent last month.

The Labor Department also provides an alternative rate that gauges the level of underemployment in the economy. In addition to the 15.4 million out-of-work people who have searched for a job during the previous four weeks, the alternative measure also includes 9.2 million part-time workers who want full-time employment and 2.3 million jobless people available for work but who had not looked for employment in the past four weeks. That underemployment rate was 17.2 percent in November, down from 17.5 percent the previous month.

The number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks and longer, increased by nearly 300,000 to 5.9 million last month.

The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees in the private work force edged higher to 33.2 hours from its record-low of 33 hours in October.

Average hourly earnings for these same workers increased by 1 cent to $18.74.

Since the recession began in December 2007, the private-sector work force has declined by 8.1 million, or 7 percent. Those figures include the 855,000 jobs the Labor Department will subtract when it releases its revisions in February. Including an additional 31,000 government jobs that will be added to the figures in early February, the government work force has increased by 163,000 jobs, or 0.7 percent, since December 2007.

With the U.S. economy expanding at an annual rate of 2.8 percent during the third quarter, most economists believe the recession ended in July or August. The economy, however, has continued to shed jobs, but the rate at which jobs have been lost has declined markedly from earlier this year.

More than 2 million jobs, or nearly 700,000 per month, were lost during the first quarter. During the last three months, by comparison, a total of 261,000 jobs, or 87,000 per month, were lost.

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