Businesses cut 85,000 non-farm jobs last month as unemployment stayed at 10%, the Department of Labor reported today.
There were 15.3 million people unemployed in December.
The department said the unemployment rate would have been even higher if it had included the 2.5 million people it describes as "marginally attached" to the labor force, a 578,000 increase from December 2008. These are individuals who wanted to work and were available and had searched for a job within the last year, but not within the past four weeks.
The number of persons unemployed for 27 weeks or more increased to 6.1 million, from 5.9 million in November.
Wages remained sluggish; average hourly earnings grew 0.2%. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings increased 2.2% and average weekly earnings rose 1.9%.
Employment continued to increase in education/health care and professional and business services.
There were continued job cuts in the manufacturing and construction sectors.