Friday, December 2, 2011

Unemployment Good News

It's finally happened, a significant downtick in unemployment. Does this make a trend? That remains to be seen. But the headline news -- The unemployment rate fell to a 2-1/2 year low of 8.6 percent in November and companies stepped up hiring, further evidence the economic recovery was gaining momentum. -- is sure to provoke animated "debate" as the presidential election year gathers steam.

But there is some really good news here: "While part of the decline in the unemployment rate from 9.0 percent in October was due to people leaving the labor force, the household survey from which the jobless rate is derived also showed solid gains in employment." And those gains have been underway for four months. Maybe, indeed, the beginning of a welcome trend. And who will take the credit, or, better, who will give it? Perhaps it is merely embedded in the economic cycle, but everyone is quick to blame someone on the other side of the cycle.

This is the lowest unemployment level since 2009, when I was writing "A true recovery requires jobs, jobs, jobs – and how are they going to be created – by banks trading energy futures? What happened to the commitment to the infrastructure? Our roads, utilities, and public transportation are falling apart. Alternative energy seems DOA. Aren’t these the areas our financial recourses should be focused on, ones that will create jobs, in construction, technology, and finance, and can lead a true economic recovery we can pass on with pride to future generations?"

A real recovery still seems to be a long way down the road as it took years and years to get to where we are and mountains of debt need to be addressed.

Meanwhile, the reasons for this drop in the unemployment rate will be parsed by the political pundits during the weekend talk shows. Brace yourself.