Unemployment Rate Falls To 9.4%; 103,000 Jobs Added

January 7, 2011

Mark Memmott

The nation's jobless rate declined to 9.4 percent in December from 9.8 percent the month before. And businesses added a relatively modest 103,000 jobs to their payrolls, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

We'll add more to this post as we sift through the report. So hit your "refresh" button to make sure you're seeing our latest additions.

And Planet Money will be on the news as well.

Update at 8:50 a.m. ET. Some early analyses:

-- Bloomberg News: "Payrolls need to grow about double December’s pace to make further progress in lowering the jobless rate."

-- The Wall Street Journal: "The U.S. economy added fewer jobs than expected in December, but the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 19 months as more people who still remain in the work force found employment."

-- Reuters: " 'The labor market improvement is still way slower than what everybody would hope for,' said Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Research in New York."

Update at 8:42 a.m. ET. When looking at the unemployment rate, it's always important to dig behind the numbers a bit. For example, what is the "participation rate" -- the percentage of people either working or looking for work? If it goes down, that could be a sign that many are discouraged and not looking for work (and it could also help lower the overall unemployment rate).

In December, the participation rate declined to 64.3 percent from 64.5 percent the month before.

And, the number of "discouraged workers" rose to 1.32 million from 1.28 million in November.

Update at 8:36 a.m. ET. The BLS says:

"The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised from [an increase of] 172,000 to [up] 210,000, and the change for November was revised from [up] 39,000 to [up] 71,000."

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