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Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.4

Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.4 - The unemployment rate declined from 9.8 percent in November and 9.9 percent a year ago. It is the lowest rate since May 2009.

Although the economy did grow enough to generate jobs, the drop in the unemployment rate represents something more dire: a dramatic decline in the nation's labor force as more people, discouraged about their employment prospects, gave up looking for work and dropped out of the job market.

"When I look at the whole basket of labor-market-related data, it is improving," said Robert Dye, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.

"Within that basket," he said, "you are going to find some data points that tick down, but I think it is a fair statement to say labor-market conditions are improving."

He cited Wednesday's ADP National Employment Report, which showed an increase of 297,000 private-sector jobs in December, with the bulk of them in small and midsize companies.

While the news was generally good, with increased hiring in manufacturing, business services, retail, health, and education, it will be a long time before the economy can generate enough jobs to keep even with the growth of the labor force and make up for what was lost in the recession, which began three years ago in December 2007.

Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.4

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