UNEMPLOYMENT STAYS AT 10%…. December was supposed to be the month the economy started adding jobs again. The actual results fell short of expectations.*

The American economy lost another 85,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate held steady at 10 percent, tempering hopes for a swift and sustained recovery from the Great Recession. […]

Always important, the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department has emerged as the crucial indicator of economic health after the longest, deepest downturn since the Great Depression. While still depressed, the job losses have eased since earlier last year.

Of particular interest, the revised numbers for November show that, for the first time since the recession began in December 2007, the job market actually climbed above zero, adding 4,000 jobs (a month ago, the initial estimate was that the economy lost 11,000 jobs that month). Regrettably, that trend did not continue in December.

In terms of the political implications, one hopes that these new numbers will remind policymakers that the status quo, while vastly improved over the disastrous conditions of a year ago, is still not even close to where we need to be. The need for an ambitious jobs bill and additional economic stimulus should be obvious — as compared to talk of shifting the focus to deficit reduction.

Here, once again, is the homemade chart I’ve been running the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession:

* edited/corrected

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.