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Employment numbers surprisingly strong while consumer sentiment drops

Employment-November-1212

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann, Flickr

Jonathan Sweet
December 7, 2012
Filed under Features, Top Stories

Despite concerns about the impact of Superstorm Sandy, November job numbers released this morning blew past consensus expectations.

U.S. employers added 146,000 jobs in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That easily surpassed the 80,000 to 85,000 most economists were expecting.

Sandy, in fact, appears to have been a non-factor, the BLS said in its report: “Our analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November.”

The unemployment rate also dropped to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in October, it’s lowest level since 2008 and the third straight month under 8 percent. The drop, though, was mostly due to a decline in the size of the workforce. The number of unemployed was flat at 12.0 million.

Consumers, though, seem to be getting more worried about the state of the economy. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers preliminary consumer sentiment index for December fell to 74.5 from 82.7 in November.

That number was well below expectations as the various consumer indices have been showing growing confidence in the economy over the last several months.

Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin blamed the drop on growing consumer unease over the “fiscal cliff” and the potential increase in payroll taxes starting in January.

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