Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Since March 2009

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December 2, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Nation's jobless rate fell to 8.6% in October, lowest since March 2009. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level in more than 2 1/2 years. More people out of work either found jobs or gave up looking and were no longer counted as unemployed.

The Labor Department said that the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 8.6%, down from 9% in October. The rate hasn't been that low since March 2009, during the depths of the recession, The Associated Press reported.

About 13.3 million Americans remain unemployed.

Employers added 120,000 jobs last month. And the previous two months were revised up to show that 72,000 more jobs added ā€” the fourth straight month that the government has revised prior months higher.

Private employers added a net gain of 140,000 jobs in November. But governments shed 20,000 jobs, mostly at the local and state level. Governments at all levels have shed nearly a half-million jobs in the past year.

More than half the jobs added last month were by retailers, restaurants and bars, a sign that holiday hiring has kicked in. Professional and business services also rose. That means the economy likely added higher-paying jobs ā€” more engineers, accountants and high-tech workers.

The government's report is based on two surveys: One looks at employers' payrolls, and the other surveys households.

The household survey, which is used to determine the unemployment rate, showed bigger job gains than the employer survey for the fourth straight month.

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