November’s jobless rate was the lowest recorded since March 2009. The rate fell partly because more workers got jobs, but also because about 315,000 workers dropped out of the labor force, and the jobless rate counts only people who are actively looking for work.
While Labor Department’s numbers are encouraging, they come with something of an asterisk.
Unemployment benefits are believed to have one of the most stimulative effects on the economy, since recipients of these benefits are likely to spend all of the money they receive quickly and so pump more spending through the economy.
“They say businesses are refusing to look at résumés from the unemployed,” said Esther Perry, 59, of Bedford, Mass., who participated in a recent report on unemployed workers put together from USAction, a liberal coalition. “What do you think my chances are? Once unemployment runs out, I don’t know what I will do.”