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Dec 5 2010   10:10PM GMT

2010 Employment Situation Ends With a Whimper

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I usually post my monthly employment situation story on the first Friday of each month, the very day that the US Department of Labor Statistics publishes their report for the preceding month. Last Friday, I took a look at the report and the numbers and decided  I just really didn’t want to write about it that same day. Despite numbers from ADP earlier in the week that led many economists to believe that there might have been as many as 160,000 new jobs created in November, the latest report from the BLS shows a net gain of only 39,000 jobs in the private sector (the report I heard on NPR said that the numbers from the US BLS usually come in higher than those from ADP, but this time they came in lower). Even more depressing, total unemployment increased from 9.6 to 9.8 percent. Though small, that’s the first increase in the overall unemployment rate in some time now.

Somehow the red BLS banner seems appropriate for this month's numberss

The red BLS banner seems appropriate this month

I don’t know what to say except “Ouch! That hurts!!” I don’t suppose this can be called a statistical surprise by any means since modest or bare improvements month over month have mostly been the rule, rather than the exception, all year long. I guess what made these results so hard to take was the false hope created by the ADP’s report of 93,000 jobs added for November, in sharp contrast to what followed on Friday in the US BLS report.

About the only bright spot I can find — if you want to call it that, because it’s more the absence of bad news rather than the presence of good news — is that information unemployment (as reported in Table B-6 for the latest BLS report) continues to hold steady at just under 2.2 million. For once, information neither led the way nor exactly tracked the swing in the gross unemployment number. Whoopee! Where’s my noisemaker?

At least, this is the final employment report for 2010. The December numbers won’t be reported until after New Year’s and generally are considered the first salvo in a new year of reports. Hopefully, those numbers will improve to help 2011 start off more positively than 2010 is ending.

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