Unemployment at 3-Year Low: Permanent Progress or Temporary Trend?

Since December, the unemployment rate has been its lowest in three years.

The lowered unemployment rate is a result of the 200,000 jobs added in December. The Labor Department announced Friday that employers added 200,000 jobs, dropping the rate of unemployment to 8.5 percent. This is the lowest the rate has been since 3 years ago in February 2009.

The Labor Department said the economy added 1.6 million jobs in 2011 while in 2010, just 940,000 jobs were added. The unemployment rate averaged 8.9 percent last year, down from 9.6 percent the year before.

The December report implied a widely improving market. It said the hourly wage had risen along with average hourly pay, that the average work week extended in length- implying that business may even need to boost hiring.

According to the report the dwindling manufacturing and construction sector added 23,000 and 17,000 jobs, respectively. Transportation and warehousing industries added 50,000 jobs while retailers added 28,000 jobs.

But is this a lasting occurrence, or just a passing trend?

Since 2008, the U.S. has had to battle just to keep unemployment below double digits. The economy recessed and job prospects have been fluctuating. CNN reported Friday morning that the country has added 1.6 million jobs for the year but many of the jobs were temporary and holiday shipping, warehouse, and service jobs.

The labor department reported in early December that government employment lost 20,000 jobs and construction lost 12,000 jobs. The labor department also reported last month that applications for unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000 but had not accounted for those who had given up and stopped searching.

Also, many Americans, specifically recent college graduates, are underemployed, meaning they are working part-time or below their education level as a result of few job prospects.

CNN reported that last year, almost 280,000 government jobs were lost in public sections from education to the Postal Service, and that this trend is likely to continue. Post offices have closed across the country and have prompted community activists and senators to push for delayed closings.

Ninety post offices in Nebraska were put on a list by the U.S. Postal Service when the organization was about to default on a $5.5 billion payment to the treasury. USPS is anticipated to lose $14.1 billion next year.

The plan to close has been delayed until May 15.

“With 90 rural post offices targeted for closure in Nebraska, we have to remember that the USPS was created to provide a public service,” said U.S. Senator Ben Nelson in a release obtained by The Christian Post.

“Rural post offices, the services they provide, and the people who provide them, have great value to communities across Nebraska. Congress needs to work with the Postal Service to fix the problems before deciding to reduce services to people who need them,” he said.