January 8th, 2010
05:14 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Jobs are back! Oh, wait a minute…

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Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Is the glass half empty? Or half full?

We lost far more jobs than we expected last month. But at the same time, the government now says we actually added jobs in November - snapping a streak of losses that goes back nearly two years to the start of the recession.

Employers cut 85,000 jobs in December, but the Labor Dept. revised its numbers for November to a net gain of 4,000 jobs from a loss of 11,000.

The unemployment rate stayed at 10% in the December, which was in-line with forecasts.

Construction and manufacturing, two sectors of the economy particularly hard hit during the recession, again suffered large job losses in December. Temporary help services and health care continued to add jobs.

The economy has lost 7.2 million jobs since the start of 2008. Losses for 2009 alone came to 4.2 million jobs, the most in one year since the government started tracking payrolls in 1939.

But even with the poor end to the year, the pace of job losses has slowed dramatically from the beginning of 2009. There were 741,000 jobs lost in January, the worst total in 60 years.

And the losses continue. Just 30 minutes after the employment report hit the wires, UPS announced plans to cut 1,800 jobs as part of a restructuring plan intended to streamline the package delivery company's domestic management structure.

The cuts will eliminate management and administrative positions across the country, UPS said in a statement. Approximately 1,100 employees will be offered voluntary separation packages; other impacted workers will receive severance benefits and access to support programs.

As economists and investors reel from that surprisingly weak jobs number, there are 3,300 people that may actually be cheering..

That's the number of employees that were added to the federal government's payroll last month.

The federal government, excluding the U.S. Postal Service, has notched an increase in jobs for seven consecutive months bringing December's total to 2,167,000, up from 2,136,700 in November.

Also today, President Obama unveiled a program that will provide $2.3 billion in tax credits for the clean energy manufacturing sector, a move aimed at creating 17,000 jobs.

The funding, which comes from the $787 billion American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, has been awarded to 183 projects in 43 states, the White House announced.

The projects selected must be commissioned by February 2013, and the government expects about one-third of those will be completed this year. The program provides a 30% tax credit for those projects.

The credit is focused on U.S. manufacturing of clean energy technologies such as solar and wind. President Obama has said he wants to double the amount of renewable energy the United States uses over the next three years.

In addition to the federal funding, private firms are investing $5.4 billion, which will create 41,000 more jobs, the White House said.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Job Market
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