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.

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