Payrolls fell by 1,20,000 workers this month, the smallest drop in almost two years, according to the median of 67 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News ahead of a December 4 Labour Department report. The unemployment rate probably held at 10.2%, a 26-year high.
The economy is recovering, but at a distinctly sub-par pace, Jan Hatzius, chief US economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc in New York, said in a note to clients. Growth looks too sluggish to lower the 10%-plus unemployment rate to a meaningful degree anytime soon. Policy makers, with an eye toward congressional elections next year, are likely to zero in on the plight of American workers. President Barack Obama will convene a jobs summit at the White House the day before the employment report, and senators will grill Ben S Bernanke during his nomination hearing to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
The projected decrease in payrolls would be the smallest since January 2008, the month after the recession began. The worlds largest economy has lost 7.3 million jobs since the start of the contraction, the biggest drop in the post-World War II era. The jobless rate is projected to exceed 10% through the first half of next year, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed this month. Obama will meet with business and labour leaders on December 3 to discuss ways to revive the economy and spur employment. The Presidents approval rating this month fell below 50% for the first time in polling by Quinnipiac University on growing discontent over jobs and the war in Afghanistan. The percentage of people who approve of Obama's handling of the economy fell to 43%, according to results issued on November 18, down from 47% in an October poll. Bernanke is slated to appear before the Senate Banking Committee, whose chairman, Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd, has said the Fed's lax supervision contributed to the housing bubble. The bust that followed deepened the worst recession since the Great Depression. The economy grew at a 2.8% annual pace from July through September, slower than initially estimated, according to Commerce Department figures released last week. We are going to have growth hopefully, but it's going to be a slow recovery," Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express Co, said.