Better Than Expected Jobs Report – But We’ve Got a Ways to Go

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Did you hear that?

It sounded like a collective sigh of relief from small businesses across the nation. Last week, Direct Capital reported several economists’ predictions for a less than stellar December jobs report.  The actual report, released on December 7, bodes much better for the recovering economy than we were expecting, but we’ve still got quite a ways to go.

The economy added a reported 146,000 jobs in November with 1.6 million added in 2011.  That’s 660,000 more than 2010 and nearly twice as many as some were predicting for the month – with manufacturing, health care, and education each adding more than 20,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate, which fell to 7.7%, the lowest rate in four years, is widely being held as an smashing success.  However, the reason the rate fell has more to do with people dropping out of the workforce than it did with people gaining jobs – as more than 350,000 people stopped looking for work, the Labor Department claims.

Overall, the economy is clearly still recovering, but we are definitely not “there” yet.

“At this rate of job growth, it will take us more than 10 years to get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate,” Heidi Shierholz, an economist for the liberal Economic Policy Institute told CNN. “The November data provide a clear reminder that mass joblessness remains the real and present economic danger this country faces.”

What are your thoughts on the jobs report?