For the first time since the Bush Recession began nearly two years ago, there is promising news: A mere 11,000 jobs were lost in November, down significantly from the wholesale hemorrhaging of the last several months, with the unemployment rate now at 10 percent, down from 10.2 percent in October.
Meanwhile, the government also significantly revised its September and October job loss estimates. September’s data was adjusted to show a loss of 139,000 jobs instead of 219,000, and in October 111,000 jobs were lost, instead of 190,000. Even allowing for the November loss, the revisions added 148,000 people to the list of those employed in the United States in November.
This early Christmas present could not come at a more opportune time for President Obama, who who was in Allentown, Pennsylvania as part of a series of visits to areas hit hard by the recession when the White House released the new numbers.
The pace of job loss has been declining since it peaked in January, but the November number was surprising since economists had been expecting a turning point in the late spring or summer. The last time that the economy added jobs was in December 2007.
The numbers were indeed encouraging inasmuch that there were gains in the average workweek and temporary workers hired. But 15.4 million Americans still remain unemployed, leading one economist to compare the situation to a patient sitting up and taking a breath after having collapsed with a heart attack.
Photograph by Matt Rourke/The Associated Press