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January 06, 2012 8:50 AM Job growth picks up steam, unemployment drops

By Steve Benen

Mitt Romney will probably find today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics very discouraging. The rest of us, though, have reason to smile.

The U.S. economy gained 200,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast the U.S. would add 150,000 jobs last month, with the jobless rate edging up to 8.7% from an initially reported 8.6% in November.

As is always the case, there was a gap between the private and public sectors. Businesses added 212,000 jobs last month, while budget cuts forced the public sector to shed 12,000 jobs, which continues to be a major drag on the overall employment picture.

That said, when monthly job growth reaches 200,000, that’s genuinely good news, and the drop in the overall unemployment to 8.5% puts the figure at nearly a three-year low, which is also encouraging. Under the circumstances, this is one of the best jobs reports since the recession began four years ago.

In terms of revisions, the job numbers for October were slightly better than previously reported, and the totals for November were slightly worse. The result is largely a wash.

For the 2011 calendar year, BLS data shows the economy added 1.64 million jobs, which obviously isn’t even close to good enough, but it was still the strongest year for job creation since 2006. A total of 853,000 jobs have been created since July.

And with that, here’s the homemade chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction — red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • c u n d gulag on January 06, 2012 8:56 AM:

    Bain Capital must have done a whole sh*tload of job-creatin' an hirin'!

    Oh, no - wait!
    They wouldn't, would they?
    That would hurt their pal, Mittens.

    Must be then "Democrat" companies then.

    No true Scotsm... ehr, uhm... no true Republican firm will hire anyone until there's a Republican President who can take credit for it!

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on January 06, 2012 8:59 AM:

    Imagine what could have been, had the Republicans actually been working towards helping solve the problems instead of making it worse.

  • Rob on January 06, 2012 9:01 AM:

    That sound you hear is the entire Republican Party hearing we ADDED jobs and exclaiming, "Damn!"

  • SadOldVet on January 06, 2012 9:04 AM:

    Steve,

    Wish you would put X axis on these graphs...

  • c u n d gulag on January 06, 2012 9:05 AM:

    Rob,
    Or they'll try to claim it's to the credit of the House Republicans and the Republican Senators obstructing Obama and his KenyanLiberalCommunistFascistAtheistMuslimSocialist agenda!

  • MikeBoyScout on January 06, 2012 9:08 AM:

    As Rob points out, it is only minutes until Republicans will claim credit. Funny thing, shouldn't the uncertainty of payroll tax cuts lasting only 2 months have scared the baby jeebus out of the job creators last month?

    What about that avalanche of regulation the Obama administration has larded on the job creators? Wasn't I just hearing how it is stifling job creation?

    No, the real news in today's numbers is that yet one more Republican 1%er meme is once again dieing.

  • QuestionEverything on January 06, 2012 9:11 AM:

    Well, well, well, what do we have here?

    Some success on the jobs front despite GOP obstruction. I'm with S-n-E-T, think of all the jobs that could have been created had it not been for the GOP and their nonsense.

    I'm starting to think Americans will, in small numbers at least, recognize this and act against Republicans in the next election.

    But I wouldn't bet on American's being manipulated in large numbers to vote to enable failure, vote to reward those that worked against them, vote to allow Republicans to get away with bad behavior, bad decisions and bad policy positions (not to mention the obstruction, lies, nonsense).

    I'll believe it when I see it. I'm registered to vote. I intend to vote and I will make sure several members of my family will vote in NOV.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on January 06, 2012 9:30 AM:

    Mitt Romney will probably find today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics very discouraging.

    Somehow I kinda doubt that... Lies, lies, and more lies @ 11.

  • mk3872 on January 06, 2012 9:41 AM:

    Which means that Obama just created 2x as many jobs in ONE MONTH as Romney is taking credit for during his ENTIRE TENURE as CEO @ BAIN !!

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