Jobs Report: Recovery? Nope.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Like a beat-up truck on its last legs, the nation’s economic recovery is all stop-and-go, one month lurching forward, the next month grinding to a halt. After a few autumn months of modest yet encouraging gains, the economy faltered again in November, according to the latest monthly report from the Department of Labor.

The headline unemployment rate ticked up to 9.8 percent, from 9.6 percent in October. The economy added just 39,000 jobs last month—a disappointment considering that economists had predicted gains of 130,000. The number of unemployed Americans remains historically high, at 15.1 million, and the ranks of those out of work for six months or more, the crippling “long-term unemployment” I chronicled in detail here, held steady at 6.3 million, or 42 percent of all unemployed workers. And there were 1.3 million “discouraged” workers—jobless people who’ve stopping looking for work altogether—in November, an increase of 421,000 from last year.

The most complete look at unemployment—the “U-6” rate, which lumps together nearly all types of unemployment—held at 17 percent. Put another way, today there are still nearly 5 unemployed workers for every one job opening.

A few slivers of good news: The Labor Department revised upward its previous jobs figures for September, from 41,000 lost to 24,000 lost, and for October, from 151,000 to 172,000. So the economy gained 38,000 more jobs in those two months than originally thought.

Of course, even with these revisions, the jobs gains of the last three months—and, indeed, the entire year—are nowhere near what we need to fill a jobs deficit of 10 million jobs—that is, what employment would look like today had the economic crisis not happened. The economy needs to add about 300,000 jobs every month to begin filling that deficit. And what Friday’s figures show is that a real economic recovery—not the two steps forward, one step back kind we’re now going through—remains months, if not years, away.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate