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U.S. Unemployment Dips, But Not Across the Board

The ranks of the unemployed in the U.S. dropped by more than a half million in December, according to the latest survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But not all worker groups benefited from the upturn in employment.

The total number of unemployed workers in the country at the end of December, the bureau reported, was 14. 5 million, for an overall unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. This was down from 15.2 million and 9.9 percent for the previous month.

Adult men (9.4 percent) and whites (8.1 percent) had lower unemployment rates, while unemployment for adult women (8.1 percent), teenagers (25.4 percent), blacks (15.8 percent) and Hispanics (13 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.2 percent.

The long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) account for nearly half (44.3 percent) of all unemployed, but their numbers were little changed at 6.4 million. The greatest leap took place among the discouraged workers, whose numbers jumped by 389,000 in December to 1.3 million. These are people who are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

Gains were posted in leisure and hospitality and in health care in December, but unemployment rates in other major industries were largely unchanged.

Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector overall increased by 47,000 in December. Within the industry, job gains continued in food services and drinking places with the addition of 25,000 jobs. Since a recent low in December 2009, the food services industry has added 188,000 jobs.
Health care employment continued to post gains in December with the addition of another 36,000 jobs.

Manufacturing employment changed little over the month, with an increase of 10,000 jobs. Following job growth earlier in 2010, employment in this sector has remained relatively flat.

"Viewed against the millions of productive manufacturing jobs lost in the past few years, this small gain reveals that our manufacturing sector is treading water,” Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), said in a statement. “Overall, the relatively stagnant job market in manufacturing shows exactly why we need a national manufacturing strategy. “

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.