Friday’s Headlines: Unemployment Rate Falls to 10%; Clinton in Brussels

BY jbreslow  December 4, 2009 at 1:43 PM EDT

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– President Barack Obama greets Allentown, Pa., Mayor Ed Pawlowski after the administration’s Jobs and Economic Growth Forum in Washington yesterday. Mr. Obama will visit Allentown today. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

 

Updated 11:10 a.m.

Good news from the Labor Department this Friday morning: Employers cut the fewest jobs in November since the start of the recession and the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 10 percent from 10.2 percent in October. Many economists had predicted the unemployment rate to remain unchanged. The bad news is that 11,000 people lost their jobs in November.

“That was a very big surprise,” Hugh Johnson, chief investment strategist and economist at Johnson Illington Advisors, told The Rundown. “I consider myself pretty good at crunching the numbers and these employment numbers I must admit were a big surprise.”

“What this tells you is the economy is in the process of recovering,” Johnson added.

Jobs will be one of the key issues President Obama discusses today when he travels to Allentown, Pa. We’ll have our own take on the jobs situation on tonight’s broadcast. Meanwhile, our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, is working on a story about how this economy is creating particularly tough challenges for older workers. Many feel they’re losing to the competition of younger workers who are willing to take less money. Not to mention the difficulties of learning how to network in the digital age, as unemployed legal assistant Patricia Wilson in San Francisco told Paul of a recent interview experience. Here’s a peek:

 
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In Brussels, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has secured a commitment from NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen for 7,000 new forces from the coalition to reinforce the 30,000 additional Americans headed to Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

Securing NATO forces has been no easy task for Clinton in the face of mounting skepticism in Europe about the war. The NewsHour’s Margaret Warner, who is traveling with the secretary of state, points out in a dispatch from Brussels:

“Administration officials say we should look at Friday’s Brussels meeting as just the opening act in their push to get NATO members to do more. But given President Obama’s accelerated time-line, the NATO drama doesn’t have much time to produce results.”

NATO’s commitment to send additional forces comes amid an expansion of the CIA’s drone attacks against al-Qaida and Taliban in Pakistan, according to a report by Scott Shane in Friday’s New York Times. The program has been lauded by counterterrorism experts, but as Shane writes, it has also “generated public anger in Pakistan, and some counterinsurgency experts wonder whether it does more harm than good.”

The NewsHour will be tracking the November jobs report, Clinton’s trip to Brussels and other stories making headlines throughout the day, as well as on tonight’s broadcast. Stay tuned.

– Additional reporting from Murrey Jacobson.