More Good News for the Job Market

For the fifth successive month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) household survey showed sizeable employment gains, gains that were fast enough to reduce the unemployment rate to 8.5%. Revisions in seasonal adjustment changed the timing of the unemployment-rate decline over the past few months. There can be little doubt, however, that the household survey shows a faster rate of job growth than the one needed to keep up with the growth in the population. Since July the fraction of adults who report holding a job has increased 0.3 percentage points. To be sure, the gains have been modest compared with the drop in the employment-to-population rate caused by the Great Recession. (Between December 2007 and July 2011 the adult employment rate fell a total of 4.5 percentage points.) Still, the employment picture is much brighter in December than it seemed in July.

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