In what's seen as a massive disappointment, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report came out today and found 74,000 jobs were added to the economy in December. This is way below the number that private forecaster ADP estimated were added in December - 238,000 - and could be a sign that estimates have become very variable in the recovery.
Despite the discouraging top-line number, the unemployment rate dropped three tenths of a percentage point, to 6.7%. The broader U-6 unemployment statistic, which takes into account underemployment, was steady at 13.1%. November's jobs report was revised upwards by 38,000 people as well.
The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons - also known as involuntarily employed part-time - was unchanged in December.
The reason for the dip in unemployment is obvious: 347,000 Americans left the labor force. There could be a number of factors that play into this, including retirements, but a large number of discouraged people left the labor force. The labor force participation rate is now at 62.8% - the lowest since 1978.