US jobless rate back at 2009 levels

Sat, Dec 3, 2011, 00:00

THE US jobless rate has dropped to its lowest level since March 2009, bolstering confidence that the economy remains on track for a steady, albeit sluggish recovery.

The figures also put President Barack Obama on firmer ground heading into his re-election campaign.

The unemployment rate fell last month from 9 per cent to 8.6 per cent per cent, while payroll growth – measured in a separate survey – accelerated slightly to 120,000.

However, even if the latest reading on the health of the labour market offered some optimism, a deeper look at the report’s components prompted caution among economists.

In an interview with the Financial Times, US labour secretary Hilda Solis remained positive.

“Over the course of the last 12 months we’ve seen an increase in jobs growth in the private sector,” she said.

She acknowledged though that there was more to be done.

She added that extending a cut in the payroll tax would help boost hiring and spending even more.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011