Job creation: 2013 ends with a whimper, and not a bang
'Even if we did have 200,000 jobs a month, we would need five years to get there,' analyst says
Christmas brought little joy - and New Year's brought little hope for the nation's unemployed. Hiring declined in December. The U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs, the weakest month for job growth since January of 2011. Economists had expected an addition of 193,000 jobs.
Some economists are holding out hope. They expect the government to revise the numbers higher in the months ahead. "Just about every other measure of job growth suggests that employers are either hiring or intending to hire, extending hours and laying off fewer people," Tim Hopper, chief economist for TIAA-CREF says.
Job creation may have been affected by the unusually cold weather. "Unusually cold weather in parts of the country" could have had some impact on construction jobs for example, which lost overall 16,000 jobs in December.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in December, but event hen, that decline came mainly from workers leaving the labor force.
Other factors such as retirement, enrolling in educational programs or taking care of relatives may have played into these statistics.
There are still many more people who have simply given up on ever finding a job. Only 62.8 percent of the adult population is participating in the labor market now, the lowest levels since 1978.
In the job market's 2007 heyday, unemployment was under five percent, but in the two years that followed, the recession wiped out 8.7 million jobs. Not all of those jobs have returned in the interim.
"We're going to have a long-term unemployment crisis for a long time," Heidi Shierholz, economist with the Economic Policy Institute says.
The winter is due to become much colder for 1.3 million Americans who received their final check in federal unemployment benefits last week.
The haggling over budget cuts versus aid to the still fragile economy exemplifies the ongoing tension between Washington policymakers.
Shierholz calculates it could take even longer to get to a pre-recession job market, when unemployment was below five percent. "Even if we did have 200,000 jobs a month, we would need five years to get there," she said.
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