Unemployment, by the Numbers

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The Labor Department announced today that the economy added 200,000 jobs in the final month of 2011, dropping the unemployment rate to 8.5% surpassing expectations. You'd figure that investors would warmly greet news that the job market is firming up, since continued joblessness is a key area holding back the country's recovery. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) fell 0.45% on Friday.

The latest report continues a trend of falling unemployment after it tipped past 10% in 2009.

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Source: Miseryindex.us.

So why did markets fall in the face of good unemployment news? One explanation might be that corporate earnings have decoupled from job growth. Earnings in recent years have been driven more from productivity gains with fewer workers. That could mean investors glean less meaning from month-to-month unemployment figures. Or it could just be that investors are pulling out money after a brisk start to the year.

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At the time this article was published Fool.com graphics/photo/art editor Dari FitzGerald doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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