Heartland Institute Reacts to November Unemployment Numbers

December 02, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics today announced that just 120,000 new jobs were created in November, putting the unemployment rate at 8.6. percent. Though that is a drop from October’s rate of 9.0 percent, some 315,000 Americans were reportedly discouraged and no longer looking for work.

The participation rate in the workforce is 64 percent, with 13.3 million working-age Americans out of a job.

The following statements from economic experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at tnash@heartland.org and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/731-9364.

“I’d say it’s good news on the surface but nothing to get excited about if people look deeper. Participation in the labor force dropped 0.2 percent, so fewer people are in the workforce. Even if no jobs are added, if fewer people are looking for work, the unemployment rate drops. The labor report notes the number of long-term unemployed ‘was little changed at 5.7 million.’

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ broad measure of unemployment, which includes people who’ve dropped out of the workforce because they are discouraged, and others who are working part-time but want to be working full-time, shows the unemployment rate approximately double the headline number.

“Even during the Great Depression years, there were swings in the unemployment rate.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor
Budget & Tax News

“The unemployment numbers are pretty good news and they do seem to show that a double-dip recession is unlikely at this point. I’d expect a continued, slow recovery over the next year or two. It’s still going to be a long time before we see anything like full employment on a national level.”

Eli Lehrer
Director, Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
Vice President, DC Operations
The Heartland Institute

“The economy did not create an unusual number of jobs in November. The entire rise in jobs (120,000) is more than accounted for by the unusual decrease in people losing jobs (432,000). The latter can be seen as either an indicator of businesses’ greater long-term faith in the economy, which is contradicted by all the other numbers we’re seeing, or a belief that people have been holding off on spending this year but will open the purse strings in the holiday season – which has indeed been happening.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.