Modest good news: The nation's unemployment rate goes down

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that the U.S. economy had created 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate had dropped from 7.9 percent in October to 7.7 percent in November, the lowest rate since December 2008.

This report should not serve as a basis for unbridled optimism, but it is not bad. It is an indicator of continuing steady, albeit slow progress on the part of the economy toward dealing with the problem of unemployment in America.

It was considered that three events in November could have had an adverse effect on job creation during that period. The first was "Sandy," the superstorm that wracked the U.S. East Coast and damaged its economy. The second was whatever worry the impending "fiscal cliff" crisis might have engendered in the economic public, among producers, consumers, investors and observers. The third was whatever reaction the population might have had to the reelection of President Barack Obama early in the month.

Since voters renewed his mandate it could be assumed to some extent that they were not displeased with how he was dealing with the country's economic problems and were sufficiently content to let him continue to pursue his approach. In that regard, however, the November job figures were neither a clear-cut endorsement of his approach, nor certainly a rejection of it in spite of the gnashing of teeth of some Republican alleged job-creators.

December's job figures will be hard to interpret, given the impact of the holiday season on the economy, but they will be susceptible to comparison with last December's. It would be nice to imagine that by the end of December America may also have some idea of how the country's executive and legislative leadership will have dealt with the "fiscal cliff" issues, for better or for worse, although as of now it is not unrealistic to imagine that come New Year's Eve they will still be playing political games, as opposed to acting as statesmen.

It would be nice if America's politicians could see such phenomena as unemployment and job creation as national problems, as opposed to opportunities to score points off their political competition.



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