The nation's unemployment rate in December reached its lowest levels since May 2009, but many economists said that the latest report from the United States Labor Department is a mixed blessing.
The economy added 103,000 jobs in the final month of 2010, which set the unemployment rate at 9.4 percent. Some experts believe that while the figure looks good on the surface, compared to November's 9.8 percent unemployment rate, it likely indicates that fewer people are in the workforce.
Economists surveyed by CNN predicted that December's figure would be 9.7 percent, but they expected a gain of approximately 150,000 jobs. The news provider reported that the labor market typically requires at least 300,000 to make a difference in the unemployment rate, indicating a significant drop in the number of Americans who were searching for jobs in December.
"Incredibly, the U.S. labor force is now smaller than it was before the recession started, though it should have grown by over 4 million workers to keep up with working-age population growth over this period," Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute told CNN.