U.S. unemployment rate drops to 8.5 percent, lowest in almost 3 yearsJanuary 7th, 2012 - 11:55 pm ICT by BNO News
WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The unemployment rate in the United States in December fell to 8.5 percent, its lowest level in nearly three years, the U.S. Labor Department (DOL) announced on Friday.
According to the December 2011 Employment Situation Report, nonfarm payroll employment added about 200,000 jobs, pushing the private sector up. The DOL said almost 2 million jobs were created in 2011.
In addition, the unemployment rate fell in 45 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) last year with the number of mass layoffs continuing to decline. Over the year, 14 of 19 industries reported a decrease in layoffs.
“Month by month, industry by industry, and state by state, America’s labor market grew stronger in 2011,” DOL Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said following the release of the numbers. “We’re now seeing sustained job growth across almost every industry.”
Solis also noted that the U.S. has created more than 3.2 million jobs over 22 consecutive months of private sector growth. The figures are good news for President Barack Obama, who is seeking re-election this year
With the initial Unemployment Insurance claims being well below 400,000 for the past month - the first time this has happened since June 2008 - December’s job creation in the transportation industry rose sharply, while significant employment gains were also seen in retail trade, manufacturing, health care, and leisure and hospitality.
Nonetheless, Solis underlined that the country’s “hard-won progress cannot be compromised.”
“Congress wisely extended Unemployment Insurance benefits and the payroll tax cut for two months, but if we’re going to see our economy reach a self-sustaining path to durable and long-term economic growth, Congress will need to extend both programs for at least a full year,” she added.
“The American public has spoken loud and clear that it rejects the political gamesmanship that has created uncertainty for businesses around the country. Congress should do the right thing and extend middle class tax relief and Unemployment Insurance benefits through 2012 to keep our economy on the path to full recovery,” Solis said.
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