Jobless rates decline, though problems still persist

Despite positive rhetoric from President Barack Obama and his administration indicating that the nation is in great shape in the aftermath of the recent economic downturn, the fact remains that millions of Americans remain unemployed as a result of the recession. What's most troubling is the reality that many of these jobless citizens aren't likely to see a return to the workforce anytime soon.

Regardless of the facts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says in its latest report that jobless rates fell in more than three-quarters of the United States in December, not recognizing the fact that many individuals simply gave up even looking for work, while even more are simply under-employed and ill-equipped to provide for their families, let alone plan for retirement

There are even more hazardous and misleading flaws to reports like these as they paint a picture of widespread inroads to economic prosperity by highlighting the low jobless rates in some of the country's least populous regions. For instance, North Dakota and South Dakota, the 48th and 46th most populated states in the country, respectively, reportedly had jobless rates of 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent in December 2013 – remarkably lower than the national average of 6.7 percent.

On the flipside, Rhode Island, one of the smallest states in terms of square miles but a densely populated area, leads the nation with a jobless rate of 9.1 percent, followed closely by Illinois, the fifth-largest population center in the nation, with 8.8 percent.

Regardless, the report lauds what it calls successful employment initiatives in Texas, California and Florida – three of the largest states population-wise – that saw their jobless rates shrink more than any other, not just in December but throughout the entire year. However, unemployment in each of these regions all either exceed or match the national average, with California still having 8.3 percent of it's population looking for jobs.

What's more, it is estimated that roughly 347,000 unemployed people simply abandoned efforts to find work, while the report indicates that over the third week of January, roughly 348,000 unemployment benefit applications were filed, which was up 19,000 from the week earlier and the highest amount in roughly a month. On top of that, while not as terrible as December's dismal 74,000 new jobs figure, many analysts are anticipating that January's hiring figures will be improved but relatively dismal compared to the monthly average for 2013, clocking in at around 185,000. 

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