Madison Residents React To Jobless Rate Dip

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than two years in November, but some in Madison cautioned that hiring would remain sluggish for months to come.

According to government figures, the economy added 120,000 jobs in November, while the federal government upwardly revised jobs reports from the previous two months. The unemployment rate dipped to 8.6 percent from 9 percent in October, but 315,000 people gave up looking for work and left the labor force.

That indicates the economy is still struggling, said Al Studesville, a student counselor at Madison Area Technical College.

“No one knows exactly where we’re going or exactly what the outlook is going to be,” he said. “Larger businesses still are not making the leap of faith with bringing on large numbers (of employees).”

Holiday hires also may have contributed to a dip in the unemployment rate, although many of those workers will again be without jobs in February.

Casandra Davis is one of those looking for work, although she has another six months of school before rejoining the labor force. The Madison College student went back to school after the recession left her without a job, she said.

“I’ve definitely got a little anxiety because the job market’s still tough,” she said. “I had planned on coming back to school a few years ago, but it wasn’t working out at the time. (Being) unemployed, that pushed me back into coming back to school very easily.”

The meeting and event management major said she’s focused on networking and building relationships to get a job after graduation.

Studesville said he cautions students that it will be tougher to find work, and many employers are paying less than they did before the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

“They say, ‘I can pay you less because there are so many people out there willing to work for less,”‘ Studesville said. “They’re needing to pay their rent, keep their homes, keep their cars and meet their responsibilities.”

Economists nationwide suggested slow employment growth is better than no growth at all, and noted the entire economy had a positive week.

Retail sales over the Black Friday shopping weekend increased, as did November auto sales. Consumer confidence, an indicator of whether Americans would begin making purchases again, also rose.

But the European debt crisis remains a concern, because if those countries fall into recession and stop buying American exports, it would hurt the U.S. economy, economists said.