Mixed messages: Labor Department contradicts ADP jobs report

Recently, we reported that the most recent data from payroll service ADP indicated that December was a banner month for the job market, with more than 238,000 new employees added during the final weeks of 2013. However, as many had hoped wouldn't be the case, the more reliable employment data organized by the Labor Department painted a very different picture, finding that fewer than 75,000 new positions were filled. This means that thousands of Americans remain unemployed and without the prospect of a comfortable retirement.

This marks the most disappointing jobs report in more than three years, with many analysts expecting there to be as many as 195,000 new payroll enrollments given the fact that previous reports had averaged 214,000 over the past several months. Despite economists cautioning that cold weather may have stalled new hiring, the December report is still roundly considered a miserable number.

The Labor Department dropped the unemployment rate down to 6.7 percent despite a lack of any real progress in hiring. The reasoning behind this is even more depressing, however, as the Labor Department stops counting individuals who have simply ceased looking for work, which this data indicates accounts for a significant portion of the unemployed population. Currently, the proportion of people either working or looking for work fell to 62.8 percent, which is a nearly 36-year low.

It's unfortunate that so many Americans are still struggling, so individuals who are fortunate enough to have investments designed to help them weather any economic storm need to take wealth preservation steps that will be effective on the long term.