Gallup Finds Unemployment at 9.6% in December
Underemployment rose to 19.0% in December from 17.2% at the end of November
by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

PRINCETON, NJ — Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.6% at the end of December — up from 9.3% in mid-December and 8.8% at the end of November.

Meanwhile, the percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work increased to 9.4% of the workforce in December — up from 9.2% in mid-December and 8.4% at the end of November.

Underemployment at 19.0% in December

The increase in Gallup’s U.S. unemployment rate and the worsening in the percentage of part-time workers wanting full-time work combined to raise underemployment to 19.0% in December from 18.5% in mid-December and 17.2% at the end of November.

Implications

The U.S. unemployment picture may seem unusually confusing these days. Gallup monitoring showed a sharp improvement in the jobs situation in November, particularly as companies added holiday workers. However, the government surprised Gallup and most other economic observers as it reported last month that the U.S. unemployment rate increased to 9.8% in November. It appears that the government made a larger seasonal adjustment than was generally anticipated for the month.

ADP on Wednesday reported that the economy added 297,000 private-sector jobs — far above the consensus expectation that the government on Friday will report the U.S. economy added 140,000 new jobs overall in December. In contrast, Gallup shows the unemployment rate increasing as companies let go of holiday workers. At the same time, Gallup’s Job Creation Index shows monthly average hiring and firing conditions essentially unchanged over the past three months.

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