...we ended the week with an employment report that could have been worse. According to the BLS survey of establishments, there were 120,000 more Americans working (on a seasonally adjusted basis) in November than in October, and the gain would have been 140,000 had it not been for the ongoing declines in the number of people employed by state and local governments. More encouraging was the 278,000 estimated gain reported in the BLS's separate survey of households. The two surveys are in broader agreement if you look at 12-month averages. We see an average employment gain over the last year of 133,000 per month from the establishment numbers and 139,000 per month from the household. Those are the sort of numbers that just keep pace with the growing population, and really don't make much progress in reducing the size of the army of unemployed U.S. workers. True, the unemployment rate (derived from the household survey) has fallen from 9.8% a year ago to 8.6% last month. But the biggest single factor in that has been the growing number of Americans who are now characterized as "not in the labor force." Each month over the last year, on average America has added 149,000 new people over 16 who are not working and not actively looking for work. In other words, the number of American adults who are "not in the labor force" is growing faster than the number who actually have jobs.
Hence the summary with which I started-- things are looking a little better, but not a whole lot.