Greece’s February unemployment for young persons rose to 64 percent in February. In the early stage of their working lives, unemployed youths are limited by a recession which will take years to recover from. The average unemployment in Greece, of all ages, is around 27 percent.
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Photo: REUTERS/John Kolesidis
The pace of hiring by U.S. employers eased slightly in December, pointing to a lackluster pace of economic growth that was unable to make further inroads in the country’s still high unemployment rate.
Payrolls outside the farming sector grew 155,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was in line with analysts’ expectations and slightly below the revised gain of 161,000 reported for November.
The report reinforces expectations of 2 percent economic growth this year, unlikely to quickly bring down the unemployment rate or make the U.S. Federal Reserve rethink its easy-money policies anytime soon despite growing unease by some policymakers over a bond-buying program.
“The U.S. economy is just muddling through,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Navigate Advisors in Stamford, Connecticut.
The jobless rate held steady at 7.8 percent in December, down nearly a percentage point from a year earlier but still well above the average rate over the last 60 years of about 6 percent.
The unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 7.8 percent in September, reaching its lowest level since President Barack Obama took office and providing a boost to his re-election bid.
The Labor Department said on Friday that employers added 114,000 workers to their payrolls last month, a moderate number, but it said a combined 86,000 more jobs were created in the prior two months than it had previously thought. Other aspects of the report also were strong.
In particular, a separate survey of households found a big surge in hiring. That pushed the jobless rate down by 0.3 percentage point to its lowest level since January 2009, the month Obama took office. Economists had expected it to rise to 8.2 percent.
The drop in the unemployment rate came even as Americans returned to the labor force to resume the hunt for work. The workforce had shrunk in the prior two months.
Jose Manuel Abel, 46, cries as he waits to catch a flight to Munich at El Prat airport in Barcelona June 29, 2012.
A former salesman, Abel has been unemployed for more than two years. He has decided to leave his family and move to Germany to work in a Spanish restaurant. His family hopes to join him if his wife can find a job.
Abel arrived in Munich with 250 euros ($307) in his pocket. Picture taken June 29, 2012. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo]
PHOTO BLOG: A new life with 250 euros
Job growth braked sharply in May and the unemployment rate rose for the first time since June, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy further to shore up the sputtering recovery.
The Labor Department report on Friday, which showed employers added a paltry 69,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the fewest since May last year, is also troubling news for President Barack Obama ahead of November’s elections.
The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent partly because people flocked into the labor market.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to increase 150,000 and the jobless rate to hold steady at 8.1 percent.
The number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing in the Northeast held up in March, providing more signs the economy was firmly on a self-sustaining growth path.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 351,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That took claims back to a four-year low reached in February.
Separately, the New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State general business conditions index rose to 20.21 - highest level since June 2010 - from 19.53 in February.
“This suggests that the recovery is firmly on track,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Read more: Jobless claims back at four-year lows
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to a near four-year low, suggesting the labor market recovery was gaining steam.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000, the Labor Department said, the lowest level since March 2008.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 365,000. The four-week moving average for new claims, seen as a better measure of labor market trends, fell 1,750 to 365,250 - the lowest since April 2008.
Read more: Jobless claims drop to near 4-year low
The economy created jobs at the fastest pace in nine months in January and the unemployment rate dropped to a near three-year low of 8.3 percent, indicating last quarter’s growth carried into early 2012.
Nonfarm payrolls jumped 243,000, the Labor Department said on Friday, the most since April and beating economists’ expectations for a gain of only 150,000.
Economists had expected the jobless rate to hold steady at 8.5 percent. The rate has dropped 0.8 percentage point since August.
1.8 Million Americans Face Cutoff of Unemployment Benefits if Congress Doesn’t Vote to Extend the Payroll Tax Holiday
The NELP report (which includes state-specific estimates) says that the 1.8 million workers affected in January include:
- Over 430,000 workers who became unemployed within the last six months and are receiving benefits through their state’s regular UI system, but whose benefits will expire in January, leaving them without access to any federal benefits. (Several hundred thousand unemployed workers exhaust their regular benefits each month — a trend that will continue over the coming year.)
- Over 700,000 workers who have been unemployed for over six months and have been receiving benefits through the temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which will expire in January. EUC provides benefits in “tiers” of weeks; people receiving EUC when the program expires at the beginning of the year will be allowed to complete their current tier but not move on to the next tier. NELP estimates that over 700,000 workers will reach the end of their current tier and thus receive no further federal benefits in January. Many more will lose EUC benefits prematurely in the months to follow.
- Almost 650,000 workers who have been unemployed for over six months (most for over a year) and who are receiving benefits through the permanent Extended Benefits (EB) program. Without congressional action, this program will not be available in any state after the first week of January, and all EB recipients will be cut off.