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Politics

Unemployment Dips, Jobs Fall Short Of Predictions

January 7, 2011

The U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs in December, according to the Labor Department, while the unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent.

Economists had on average expected a gain of 160,000 jobs, which partly reflected the shockingly high reading from Wednesday's ADP employment report, which measures private-sector job growth based on payroll data. That report stunned forecasters by registering a net gain of 297,000 jobs.

Economists and policymakers had been anxiously awaiting this morning's release as evidence mounted that it could be the strongest private-sector jobs number since before the recession. But forecasters had also sounded an optimistic note in predictions for November's numbers, only to be sorely disappointed by what was then a reading of only 39,000 jobs added.

Though the monthly job-creation estimates attract enormous attention among both investors and the general public, they are precarious numbers. The Labor Department frequently revises by large amounts a month or two later. And because the net change in new jobs per month is a minuscule fraction of all jobs in the country, the numbers are often volatile from month to month.

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