American unemployment fell to 8.5% last month as 200,000 more jobs were added to U.S. employment. This is another modestly positive development suggesting that the slow but steady recovery is continuing in the U.S. If one had experienced job gains in the public sector as opposed to little gain in the sector the results would be even better. The number of unemployed persons continued its downward trend as since August the unemployment rate has fallen 0.6%. Discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available remains high at 945,000 but is down from a year ago by some 373,000. the main areas that showed positive employment growth were manufacturing up by 23,000, retail trade up by 28,000, and health care up by 23,000, food service and drinking places also added 24,000 jobs up over the year by 230,000 jobs.Unemployment among Black and Afro Americans remains elevated at 15.8 % and among Hispanics at 11.0 %. Unemployment among Asian Americans is 6.8% and among Whites is 7.5%. Among those over the age of 25 the unemployment rate among those holding a college degree is low at 4.1% while those with less than a high school diploma have a rate of unemployment of 13.8 %.the overall labour participation rate held steady at 64 % but this down from a year ago when it was 64.3 %. So the trend remains positive but bigger gains are still needed to bring the rate more swiftly below 8 % in the next few months and perhaps below 7 % a year from now.
In Canada the situation was somewhat the opposite. The change is small but in the wrong direction. Unemployment rose for 7.4 % last month to 7.5 % this month. Most of this rise in unemployment took place in Quebec where the rate rose to 8.7% up from 8.0 % in November.In contrast, the rate fell in Ontario down from 7.9 to 7.7 %. The latest survey of consumer confidence was the most pessimistic it had been in more than a decade. But perhaps this will shift as the American economy continues to recover and if the Federal and provincial governments reverse policy that has leaned in recent months in a contractionary direction. Given the rise in unemployment and the troubles in Europe it is clearly the wrong time to be implementing or even speaking of cuts and austerity.
According to the latest release from Eurostat unemployment in the Euro area has risen to 10.3 %(in the broader European union it is 9.8 % It is highest in Spain at 22.9 % and lowest in Austria at 4.0 %. the following table is derived from Eurostat data.
European unemployment rates:selected countries
Austria 4.0 %
Netherlands 4.9 %
Luxembourg 4.9 %
Germany 5.5 %
Belgium 7.2 %
Sweden 7.4 %
Denmark 7.8 %
France 9.8 %
Youth unemployment is 46.6 % in Greece; 49 % in Spain;35 % in Slovakia; 8.1 % in Germany;8.3 % in Austria and 8.6 % in the Netherlands.