Nightly News | December 02, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: For Americans who woke up today to the new number -- just the number -- it was great news. Unemployment has fallen way down to 8.6 percent from 9. That puts it at the lowest level officially in about two and a half years.
WILLIAMS: It means employers added 120,000 jobs in the month of November. But there's a disconnect buried in this good news and in this new lower unemployment, and that's the full-time hurt going on across this country, including those who've stopped looking for a job and African-Americans who saw their unemployment numbers go up substantially. Even the White House is saying, in the face of this good news, you can never read too much into just one month's figures. But there is hope, and we begin tonight with NBC 's Tom Costello . He's in Washington . Tom , good evening.
TOM COSTELLO reporting: Hi, Brian. This is the biggest drop in the monthly unemployment rate since January. And while more Americans are getting jobs, a third of those jobs are in the retail sector, many of them temporary in the run-up to the holidays. From the mall to Main Street to Wall Street , today's unemployment numbers seemed to catch the country by surprise. But analysts say to understand why the unemployment rate suddenly dropped to 8.6 percent you've got to go inside the numbers.
STEVE LIESMAN reporting: Part of the game is -- comes from people dropping out of the work force, but another part comes from more jobs and more -- and fewer unemployed.
COSTELLO: That's critical. Three hundred fifteen thousand fewer people were looking for jobs in November and, therefore, aren't counted as unemployed. The jobs that were created, 140,000 of them, came from the private sector . And there were more jobs created in September and October than first reported. Meanwhile, government employment shrank by 20,000 jobs. The president today used the numbers to urge Congress to again extend the payroll tax cuts and renew unemployment benefits .
President BARACK OBAMA: Now is not the time to slam the brakes on the recovery. Right now it's time to step on the gas.
COSTELLO: So who is hiring? The retail sector added 50,000 jobs, most in clothing and electronics stores. Temporary hiring, much of it seasonal, was up big. Leisure and hospitality businesses hired 22,000 people. Seventeen-thousand jobs came in health care. And 2,000 factory jobs, most with the automakers.
Ms. ELLEN ZENTNER ; The jobs that we're creating today are more highly concentrated in low-paying sectors. They're not the manufacturing jobs of yore which were good jobs with good benefits that allowed one worker to support an entire family.
COSTELLO: And analysts say minorities and the poor are still suffering
disproportionately: 16 percent unemployment in black America .
Mr. MARC MORIAL: God bless, man. Hang in there.
Unidentified Man: Right. All right. You, too.
COSTELLO: In Philadelphia , we caught up with Marc Morial , the president of the Urban League .
Mr. MORIAL: It's cost maybe decades of advances in home ownership to be lost, decades of advances in income to be lost, with high unemployment.
COSTELLO: Well, the economic recovery has generated about 100,000 or more jobs for each of the past five months, but economists say it's going to take twice -- two to three times that many to truly make a dent in the unemployment rate . Right now roughly 13 million Americans are out of work. Brian :
WILLIAMS: Tom Costello starting us off from Washington tonight. Tom , thanks for that.