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U.S. adds over 200,000 jobs in December

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief at Gallup, provides a preview of December's unemployment.

Stacey Vanek Smith: The Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added 200,00 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since 2009.

Here to help us suss this out is Chris Low, chief economist with FTN financial in New York. He joins us live. Good morning, Chris.

Chris Low: Good morning, Stacey.

Smith: So Chris, I'm a little confused here. The jobs This seems like very good news, but the markets are falling. What's going on?

Low: Look, there's two answers to that one. The first is that traders trade individual monthly reports on an individual monthly basis, and there was some seasonal stuff going in December that helped boost this number. Also, we have been watching indicators of the labor market getting better and better all month -- particularly the jobless claims, which are way down over the course of the month. So we were expecting good news, but it shouldn't diminish the fact this is the best employment report since April.

Smith: We're a victim of our own success.

Low: Yeah, but look, for everyone who isn't a trader, it is good news. Make no mistake, even if the market ends up down on it.

Smith: Chris, this caps off a week of good news -- a strong showing for manufacturing, strong car sales and now jobs. Is the economy turning a corner?

Low: I don't know, "turning a corner." But hey, it's getting better, and that's a good thing. We had, for example, in the fourth quarter, a drop in the unemployment rate -- at 8.5 percent. Boy, three months ago, economists thought we wouldn't see 8.5 percent until 2013.

And then on top of that, we've got GDP growth that is shaping up probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 percent. Remember, people were talking about recession three months ago. So it is definitely better.

Unemployment rate though, is still 8.5 percent. I'd really love to see it somewhere in the neighborhood of 7, so we've still got a ways to go.

Smith: Chris Low with FTN financial. Thank you, Chris.

Low: You're welcome, thank you.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.
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