The unemployment rate in the United States dropped to 9.4 percent from the previous month’s high of 9.8 percent, the Department of Labor announced this morning. But the news isn’t as good as it seems: The number, the lowest since July 2009, was reached in large part because a chunk of Americans have simply given up looking for work. In total, the economy added 103,000 jobs in December — all of which were in the private sector (state and local governments actually cut 10,000 jobs nationwide). While the numbers for October and November were adjusted upward after subsequent analysis, economists were still disappointed by the news. More than 14 million Americans were out of work last month, with nearly half that having been jobless for six months or more. Hiring is expected to ramp up this year because of the improved economy, and the tax-cut package will hopefully boost consumer and business spending.