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Jobless Rate Drops to 8.6%, Economy Adds 120,000 Jobs

The nation’s unemployment rate in November fell to 8.6 percent down from October’s 9 percent and the lowest since March 2009. The economy added 120,000 jobs last month, according to the latest figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Economists say the nation needs 130,000-150,000 new jobs each month to keep up with the growth of the workforce, and the large drop in the unemployment rate also is the result of some 315,000 workers dropping out of the labor force. The jobless rate counts only people who are actively looking for work.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the drop in the jobless rate is welcome but closing “the 11 million jobs gap opened by the Great Recession will require far more aggressive growth.”

This week, however, instead of focusing on job creation, tone-deaf Republicans kept pressing forward on legislation to strip away long-standing safeguards of workers’ rights. Those in Congress should listen to working families and pass the American Jobs Act, starting with extending unemployment insurance and the payroll tax reduction.  As long as Congress continues to ignore these calls for action, our economic recovery remains in grave danger.

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Heidi Shierholz says:

At this pace of job growth, it will be more than two decades before we get back down to the pre-recession unemployment rate. Moreover, a shrinking labor force is not the way we want to see unemployment drop.  At this rate of growth we are looking at a long, long schlep before our sick labor market recovers.

More than 13  million workers remain unemployed, but some 26 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work. The number of long-term jobless (more than 27 weeks) was 5.7 million, or 43 percent of the total jobless.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) coverage for the long-term unemployed is set to expire Dec. 31 and nearly 2 million out-of-work Americans will be cut off from federal UI coverage the first week of January alone, unless Congress renews the program.  More than 6 million workers could potentially lose their critically needed UI coverage over the course of 2012.

Wednesday, some 200 jobless workers rallied on Capitol Hill and delivered 75,000 petitions urging Congress act now to extend unemployment insurance coverage. The rally kicked off week-long series of actions to demand Congress act and will culminate with a Dec. 8 Capitol Hill rally of jobless workers, union members and community and faith activists.

Today’s figures show that unemployment rate for adult men fell by 0.5 percentage point to 8.3 percent in November. The jobless rate for whites declined from 8 to 7.6 percent while the jobless rate for African Americans rose to 15.5 percent from 15.1 percent in October. The rates for adult women (7.8 percent), teenagers (23.7 percent) and Hispanics (11.4 percent) showed little or no change.

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