Unemployment declines less than 10% despite drops in payroll

New data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics on Friday found that the national unemployment rate has sunk to its lowest level since August 2009 as it fell to 9.7 percent in January.

The rate had spent the previous two months at 10 percent after peaking at 10.3 percent in October 2009.

The data will likely come as good news to jobless workers who are looking for a means of income to help get out of debt.

However, despite the lower unemployment rate, BLS data also showed that nonfarm payrolls shed 20,000 jobs over the month. Doug Roberts, the chief investment strategist for Channel Capital Reasearch.com, called the data “conflicting,” telling Reuters that it neither signified an economic decline nor a recovery.

“What is throwing people off is probably the 9.7 percent unemployment rate – the drop in the unemployment rate – which is positive but is not coming from new jobs created. Its coming from people dropping out of the work force.”

The survey also found that the number of unemployed workers who had been out of work for longer than 27 weeks had increased to 6.8 million in January. At the beginning of the recession in December 2007 the figure stood at only 5 million.