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U.S. Job Market Remains Weak

By John S. McClenahen For more than six months now there has been very little overall employment growth in the U.S. economy, the latest data from the U.S. Labor Department confirm. Indeed, the November numbers show non-farm employment declining by 40,000, a sharp contrast to the 36,000 jobs economists generally expected the economy to add last month. U.S. manufacturing lost another 45,000 jobs in November, with "substantial" cutbacks taking place in fabricated metals, electronic equipment and transportation equipment, notes Kathleen P. Utgoff, the commissioner of the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of people unemployed rose nearly 300,000 in November to reach 8.5 million. The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 6% in November from October's 5.7%. "All in all, these numbers failed to echo the evidence of recovering momentum evident in recent indicators," says Maury Harris, Chief U.S. economist at UBS Warburg LLC, New York. Jerry J. Jasinowski, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers, goes farther. He sees November's unemployment data as "grim confirmation of the need for additional tax relief." Noting that manufacturing employment fell for the 28th consecutive month in November, Jasinowski says, "It is high time our government realized that the nation's manufacturing sector is under extreme stress and that a general economic recovery cannot happen until manufacturing is back on its feet."

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