According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the December unemployment rate remained unchanged from November–10%.
Some analysts argue that this “stability” is a hopeful sign, pointing to economic recovery.
If only it were so. In reality, the unemployment rate remained at 10% only because more than half a million (661,000) workers dropped out of the labor force in December. If those people had remained in the labor force and been counted as unemployed the rate would have risen to 10.4%.
Adding to the concern is the fact that long term unemployment also continues to rise; almost 40 percent of currently unemployed workers have been unemployed for more than six months. The average duration of unemployment hit 29 weeks in December, the longest since the government began tracking such data in 1948.
Perhaps not surprisingly in-light of the above, the broadest measure of unemployment [U6], which includes discouraged workers and those working part-time for economic reasons, rose from 17.2% in November to 17.3% in December.