WASHINGTON, D.C. — The national unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.4 percent in December, and nonfarm payroll employment increased by 103,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Employment rose in leisure and hospitality and in health care but was little changed in other major industries.
The number of unemployed persons decreased by 556,000 in December, but 14.5 million Americans remain unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) accounted for 44.3 percent of the total.
The civilian labor force participation rate edged down in December to 64.3 percent, and the employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 58.3 percent. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in December at 8.9 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
About 2.6 million people were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey, but they were available to work and had looked for a job at some point in the past year.
Among this group, there were 1.3 million discouraged workers in December, an increase of 389,000 from December 2009. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
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