Economy sheds 85,000 jobs in December

on January 08 2010 10:40 AM

U.S. employers unexpectedly cut 85,000 jobs in December, government data showed on Friday, cooling optimism on the labor market's recovery and keeping

pressure on President Barack Obama.

The Labor Department said November payrolls were revised to show the economy actually added 4,000 jobs in that month rather than losing 11,000 as initially reported. With revisions to October, however, the economy lost 1,000 more jobs than previously estimated over the two months.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 10 percent in December.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to be unchanged last month and the unemployment rate to edge up to 10.1 percent.

High unemployment is one of the toughest domestic challenges facing Obama. The administration's success in getting people back to work will shape prospects for Obama's own political future.

Unemployment remains the Achilles heel of the economic recovery that started in the third quarter of 2009 following the worst recession in 70 years. Creating jobs is critical to sustaining the economic recovery when government stimulus fades.

For the whole of 2009, the economy shed 4.2 million jobs, the department said.

Still the job market continued to show broad improvements last month, with a number of sectors showing gains.

Professional and business services added 50,000 positions, while education and health services increased payrolls by 35,000. Temporary help employment rose by 47,000.

Manufacturing payrolls fell 27,000 after dropping 35,000 in November. The construction sector lost 53,000 jobs, while the service-providing sector shed only 4,000 workers.

The average workweek was unchanged at 33.2 hours, while average hourly earnings increased by $18.80 from $18.77 in November.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci.)

More News from IBT MEDIA