According to a report released on Friday by the US Department of Labor, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November - the lowest since December 2008. Hiring remained steady in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Despite some promising statistics, the report was not entirely optimistic with US employers adding 49,000 fewer jobs in October and September than initially estimated.
Some sources attribute the drop in the unemployment rate to the number of Americans who stopped looking for work and as a result weren't counted as unemployed. Sandy disrupted economic activity in some sectors. The construction industry lost 20,000 jobs in November, due in part to the storm. Adverse weather conditions prevented 369,000 people from getting to work – the most in almost two years.
Retailers added 53,000 positions in November. Overall however, manufacturing jobs declined by 7,000 despite nearly 10,000 new positions in automobile manufacturing. The University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer confidence index fell to 74.5 from 82.7 in November. Many attribute this dramatic decrease to the looming fiscal cliff. With no clear resolution to the crisis in sight, economic uncertainty and the threat of new taxes appear to be behind diminished consumer confidence. It remains to be seen whether retail sales, which were robust over the BlackFriday weekend, will be dramatically impacted by the decline in confidence.
Danielle Ford is a Marketing Communications Strategist in Kean University's Office of University Relations.