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(Un)employment report

The Bureau of Labor report for November:

Job creation remained weak in the U.S. during November, with just 120,000 new positions created, though the unemployment rate slid to 8.6 percent, a government report showed Friday.

The rate fell from the previous month’s 9.0 percent, a move which in part reflected a drop in those looking for jobs. The participation rate dropped to 64 percent, from 64.2 percent in October, representing 315,000 fewer job-seekers.

How does the unemployment rate  drop when the number of new jobs added isn’t enough to decrease the unemployment rate? Fuzzy numbers:

There are about 150 million people with jobs in the U.S., so it’s impossible to measure every hiring and firing perfectly. The government relies on two imperfect surveys. To get the jobs-added figure, we count hirings and firings on payrolls. To get the unemployment rate and the employment/population rate, we conduct a survey of U.S. households.

The household survey says we added 300,000 jobs last month. The other survey says the private sector added only 140,000 jobs in November. Half of those jobs came from retail (it’s shopping season) and health care (which is always growing). Meanwhile, the government lost 20,000 jobs. The result was a 120,000 net gain.

Meanwhile:

[Yesterday] Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on nearly 160 million hard-working Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

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