Unemployment drop isn't as impressive as it seems
As the wire reports say, November's unemployment drop from 9.0 percent to 8.6 percent puts the jobless rate at its lowest point in more than two years. But there are still more than 13 million unemployed folks -- Americans who want to work, have looked for a job in recent weeks and haven't been hired. And that doesn't count the folks who have given up. If you want to work but you're not actively looking for a job, you're not counted as unemployed.
Hundreds of thousands seem to have given up looking last month, which is what partly explains the drop in unemployment. That doesn't seem like huge progress. And, as Bloomberg notes:
The report also showed an increase in long-term unemployed Americans. The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more increased as a percentage of all jobless, to 43 percent from 42.4 percent.
The separate sample of payrolls showed a seasonally adjusted gain of 120,000 jobs, which is about what economists expected. But that's not nearly enough to provide work for everybody who wants it. The population and the labor force keep growing. The job base needs to grow faster than the labor force to put the country back on the right track.