The country’s unemployment rate dropped for the fourth straight month to a three-year low of 8.5 percent in December, according to statistics released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The department said 200,000 jobs were added last month.
Sectors that had the biggest gains were manufacturing and health care — both 23,000 jobs added — and food service, which added 24,000.
Since the unemployment rate was stagnant at 9.1 percent from June through August, the number of people looking for work has been slowly decreasing.
In November, 8.7 percent of Americans were unemployed.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said the report was encouraging but called on her colleagues to pass the president’s jobs bill.
“December’s job gains were a strong way to end the year, but if we’re to make a real dent in the unemployment rate, both sides in Congress need to come together and pass the president’s jobs bill and the full-year payroll tax cut,” she said in a statement. “Americans have been waiting for more than a year for the House majority to put forward a plan to create jobs. So far, Republicans have done nothing to address the most vital issue for the American public.”
Her colleague, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), agreed.
“The latest unemployment figures are welcome and they’re a positive sign. But they further demonstrate that much more must be done,” Ackerman said. “As millions of Americans continue to look for work, Congressional Republicans still refuse to hold a vote on President Obama’s jobs bill, and they continue to do little to improve our economy.”
The monthly jobs report is one of the major indicators used to measure the health of the economy.
Teenagers between 16 and 19 years old had the highest unemployment rate in December at 23.1 percent. Adults with a bachelor’s degree and higher had the lowest rate at 4.1 percent.
The unemployment rate for adult men — 8 percent — was slightly higher than the 7.9 percent of adult women who were without a job.
Among racial groups, blacks had the highest unemployment rate at 15.8 percent while Asians had the lowest at 6.8 percent. One in 11 Hispanics in the country were unemployed in December and 7.5 percent of whites did not have a job.
Among adults 25 and older, those with less than a high school diploma had the highest unemployment rate at 13.8 percent — half a percentage point higher than November.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
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