Unemployment falls in U.S. in midst of international turmoil, Europe on road to Q.E.,Swiss cut interest rates .

As the new academic term and new year gets underway in frigid Montréal in the grip of January below zero temperatures there is much to write about. First, of course, the horrible news from France, the Middle East and Africa where the tragic death of so many innocent people because of war,hatred and terrorism has shocked and saddened us all. Our condolences to all those affected. Increased vigilance is necessary. As Virgil wrote and Chaucer borrowed for his Canterbury Tales Amor omnia vincit so we pray it must eventually.

On the economic front President Obama had good reasons to be pleased about the further drop in the headline unemployment rate in the U.S. to 5.6 %. The last time unemployment was this low in the U.S.was June 2008. With any luck the rate should continue to fall toward the 5% mark and possibly below in the months to come.(see the table below)The broader U6 rate also fell to 11.1 % and the number of new jobs created in December was 252,000. In Canada the picture was less bright as the unemployment rate remained at 6.6% with regional rates falling from 7.6% to 7.5 % in Québec;Ontario 7.0% stable;Manitoba up from 5.1 to 5.2% Saskatchewan up to 3.6 % from 3.4%; Alberta up to 4.7% from 4.5 % and B.C. down to 5.4 % from 5.8 %; New Brunswick up to 10.2% from 9.6%; down to 8.3% from 8.8% in Nova Scotia; up to 11% from 10.5 in PEI and up to 11.3 % from 10.7% in Newfoundland. It is also important to note that the labour participation rate is 72.8 % in Alberta but 64.4% in Québec and 65.6% in Ontario. (All rates courtesy of Statistics Canada)

In Europe there has been a court decision which confirms it is legal for the European central bank to purchase government bonds from the financial markets and thereby implement quantitative easing. So we are now very close the the ECB moving in the right direction. The fall in interest rates in Switzerland to negative 0.75% will help the Swiss lower the value of their franc against the euro which reinforces the need for QE from the ECB. Inflation rates in the US as measured by the monthly CPI fell for the second month in a row undoubtedly driven lower by falling oil prices.

Data extracted on: January 16, 2015 (4:31:54 PM)

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Series Id: LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status: Unemployment rate United States
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2004 5.7 5.6 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.4
2005 5.3 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9
2006 4.7 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4
2007 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4 4.6 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.7 5.0
2008 5.0 4.9 5.1 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.1 6.1 6.5 6.8 7.3
2009 7.8 8.3 8.7 9.0 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.8 10.0 9.9 9.9
2010 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.9 9.6 9.4 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.8 9.3
2011 9.2 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.5
2012 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.0 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.9
2013 8.0 7.7 7.5 7.6 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.2 7.2 7.2 7.0 6.7
2014 6.6 6.7 6.6 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.1 5.9 5.7 5.8 5.6

Courtesy of
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Postal Square Building, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20212-0001
http://www.bls.gov | Telephone: 1-202-691-5200 | TDD: 1-800-877-8339 | Contact Us

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About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
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