US chems lose jobs in Dec as plastics, unemployment rate improve

07 January 2011 15:53  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US chemical sector lost jobs in December while plastics and overall US industry added them, the US Labor Department said on Friday.

Employment in chemical manufacturing dropped to a seasonally adjusted 772,700 positions in December, down 0.1% from 773,600 in November.

Meanwhile, jobs in the plastics and rubber products sector rose 0.6% to a seasonally-adjusted 639,000, up from 635,400 employed in November.

Overall, US non-farm employment increased by 103,000 in December as the unemployment rate improved to 9.4% from 9.8%.

Much of the increase was due to rising employment in the leisure, hospitality and health care industries, the Labor Department said.

US recession unemployment peaked at 10.1% in October 2009.

“The overall trend of economic data over the past several months has been encouraging, due in large part to the initiatives passed by the administration, but we still have a ways to go,” said Austan Goolsbee, chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“The measures we worked with Congress to pass last month that continue tax cuts for the middle class and extensions to unemployment insurance are vital to sustaining the recovery,” he added.

Goolsbee said the unemployment rate remained unacceptably high and that further robust employment growth was needed in order for the US to recover from deep job losses that began more than two years ago.

The Labor Department also upwardly revised job gains in the prior two months. Total non-farm employment in November was increased to a gain of 71,000, up from a prior estimate of 39,000.

Likewise, the estimate for October employment gains was raised to 210,000 from 172,000.

The unemployment report for January will be released on 4 February.

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By: Ben DuBose
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