155,000 New Jobs, Unemployment Rate Holding Steady in December

Monday, January 7 -- “Little changed,” “largely unchanged,” “holding steady.”… How many different ways can you say “static” without making the term sound pejorative?

With the annual December jobs/unemployment numbers released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we learn that unemployment is at 7.8%, a number that it has been at or around since September.  We learn that the percentage of long-term unemployed (4.8 million, accounting for 39% of the total unemployed) is equally unchanged. That’s people who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.

12.2 million total unemployed, 155,000 new nonfarm jobs added in December, 7.9 million involuntary employed part-time for economic reasons… Read the breakdown here.

Certainly it’s good that the unemployment numbers aren’t moving in the other direction. Any growth is good growth, right?

Trouble is, we’re not adding jobs quickly enough to get back to our pre recession levels with any dispatch. Some forecasters say that, at this rate, we may not get back to pre-recession levels until 2020 at the soonest.

The Huffington Post – excerpting the Associated Press – is a little bit rosier, if realistic in its report:

There were indications in the December report of the job market's ongoing sluggishness. The number of Americans unemployed actually rose 164,000 to 12.2 million. The unemployment figures come from a separate survey of households, while the job counts are derived from a survey of businesses.

Still, the economy is improving. Layoffs are declining, and the number of people who sought unemployment aid in the past month is near a four-year low.

And Don Lee, writing about the December jobs increase in the Los Angeles Times quotes Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute as saying “It’s absolutely status quo.”