Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Unemployment rate drops to 8.6% in November

Jill Schlesinger Dec 2, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: The nation’s unemployment rate dropped by nearly half a percent between October and November. The Labor Department today said the economy created 120,000 jobs last month.

We’re going to get some thoughts now from Jill Schlesinger, editor-at-large at CBS/MoneyWatch. And she’s with us live from New York City as she is every Friday morning. Hey Jill.

Jill Schlesinger: Good morning.

Chiotakis: All right, why the big drop in the unemployment rate? But only — and I say only — 120,000 jobs created?

Schlesinger: You know, it’s really very confounding — but there are two different surveys: one for the unemployment rate, one for the jobs added. And part of the reason the rate went down so much was that we saw a decline in the labor force — over 300,000 fewer people — and that does distort the number a bit. And could maybe be reversed when we see the December report next.

Chiotakis: I know, Jill, with reports today that leaders in Europe are really attacking the debt crisis there, and then there’s today’s relatively positive employment report — has the mood in the economy shifted, do you think?

Schlesinger: Well, it may be — and I’ll say that for today only. Because if things were to collapse tomorrow in Europe, or over the weekend, I think we would see a complete reversal of fortune. But for today, I think you take the news as it comes. You say, look, the labor force is getting a little bit better. We are seeing marginally better numbers from month to month. And there is some steadiness to that.

In Europe, if this cloud of uncertainty lifts, I really believe this is probably the biggest impediment to making the U.S. economy and the stock market grow. So without the Europe problem, I think we would be feeling a lot better and we’d see more positive results. I’m just going to take it for what it is: a pretty decent Friday. Go out and do some holiday shopping.

Chiotakis: So an economic mood that’s shifted with an asterisk, right?

Schlesinger: For today.

Chiotakis: Just for today. Jill Schlesinger joining us from New York. Jill, thanks.

Schlesinger: Take care.

News and information you need, from a source you trust.

In a world where it’s easier to find disinformation than real information, trustworthy journalism is critical to our democracy and our everyday lives. And you rely on Marketplace to be that objective, credible source, each and every day.

This vital work isn’t possible without you. Marketplace is sustained by our community of Investors—listeners, readers, and donors like you who believe that a free press is essential – and worth supporting.

Stand up for independent news—become a Marketplace Investor today with a donation in any amount.