The national unemployment rate inched up .03 percentage points to five percent in December compared to 4.4 percent a year earlier.
The rate for African Americans was nine percent, up .06 percentage points over November, and .07 points above the same time last year.
The nation-wide figure reflects some 7.7 million people without jobs plus another 363,000 so-called discouraged workers–people who are outside the labor force and or no longer searching for work because they believe their job hunting efforts would be unsuccessful.
In December, there were 10,165 African Americans not in the labor force, and that includes discouraged workers as well as those people not counted as unemployed or employed. Nation-wide there were 1.3 million people marginally attached to the labor force in December. These individuals wanted and were available to work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. However, because they did not look for work in the four weeks preceding the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, they were not counted as unemployed.
The numbers do not include people incarcerated in mental hospitals or serving in the military.
The last time the national unemployment rate hit five percent was November 2005. The new figures, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week, show a steadily increasing jobless rate for 2007 and fewer jobs being added to the economy. In 2007, the U.S. added only 1.3 million jobs compared to 2.3 million in 2006.