1.) Initial unemployment claims have remained stubbornly high for the entire year; they have essentially leveled off in the 450,000-475,000/week range and simply refuse to budge.
2.) Announced job cuts have been fairly steady:
What this means is simple:
Job cuts announced by U.S. employers fell in October from a year earlier, signaling that a lack of hiring rather than an increase in firings is restraining the labor market.
My guess is there are the following reasons for the lack of hiring.
1.) Lack of overall demand; the economy is growing slowly.
2.) It hasn't really hit profits. In fact, overall earnings are in good shape.
3.) Small business is still hurting.
4.) Legislative uncertainty.
In reality, I think the primary reason is overall slow demand, with all the other issues a distant second.