Dec. 6 - Unemployment is down, hiring is up, and Americans returned to the workforce in November in a sign the economy is strengthening again and the Federal Reserve could soon relax extra stimulus. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Another month of solid job gains and a drop in unemployment is adding to signs the U.S. economy is picking up steam, and that could prompt the Federal Reserve to remove its economic band-aid. Unemployment dropped to a five-year low of seven percent in November as distortions caused by the government shutdown eased. And a separate survey by the Labor Department showed a surprise jump in payrolls of 203,000. Revisions to September and October show employers, on average, hired almost 200,000 new workers over the past three months - a sign of steady job growth. Hiring was across the board and even the government added to the workforce. Other parts of the closely watched jobs report were encouraging including a rise in hourly earnings and a longer work week. The report is sure to add to speculation the economy is reaching the point where the Federal Reserve can start slowing down on bond purchases as early as this month.