Unemployment rate declines, hiring surges

Unemployment rate declines, hiring surges
WASHINGTON (AP) — A burst of hiring in December pushed the unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly three years, giving the economy a boost at the end of 2011.
The Labor Department said today that employers added a net 200,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, the lowest since February 2009. The rate has dropped for four straight months.
The hiring gains cap a six-month stretch in which the economy generated 100,000 jobs or more in each month. That hasn’t happened since April 2006.
“There is no question that today’s employment report is a positive and there is also no question that the pace of job growth has accelerated of late,” said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst at BTIG LLC, a brokerage firm
A better job market is a positive sign for President  Obama, who is bound to face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any sitting president since World War II. Unem-ployment was 7.8 percent when Obama took office in January 2009.
Still, the level may matter less to his re-election chances if the rate continues to fall. History suggests that presidents’ re-election prospects hinge less on the unemployment rate itself than on the rate’s direction during the year or two before Election Day.
For all of 2011, the economy added 1.6 million jobs, better than the 940,000 added in 2010. The unemployment rate averaged 8.9 percent last year, down from 9.6 percent the previous year.
Published in The Messenger 1.6.12

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