Employers Add 120,000 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.6%

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in November as the economy added 120,000 jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. However, there are still 13.3 million unemployed workers.

The unemployment rate, which had been between 9.0 and 9.2 percent for much of the year, fell to its lowest level since March 2009. However, a key factor in the lower rate for November is the smaller size of the American work force. Approximately 315,000 people have apparently given up looking for work and are no longer counted among the unemployed.

In November, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs declined by 432,000 to 7.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted for 43.0 percent of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) dropped by 378,000 over the month to 8.5 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 120,000 in November, in line with the average gain for the prior 12 months (+131,000). The private sector added 140,000 jobs, as employment rose in a number of service-providing industries. Government employment continued to trend down.

Employment in retail trade rose by 50,000 in November, with much of the increase occurring in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+27,000) and in electronics and appliance stores (+5,000). Since reaching an employment trough in December 2009, retailers have added an average of 14,000 jobs per month.

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in November (+22,000). Within the industry, food services and drinking places added 33,000 jobs. This gain more than offset a loss of 12,000 jobs in the accommodation industry. In the last 12 months, leisure and hospitality added 253,000 jobs, largely driven by employment increases in food services and drinking places.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in November (+33,000). Modest job gains continued in temporary help services. Health care employment continued to rise in November (+17,000). Within the industry, hospitals added 9,000 jobs. Over the past 12 months, health care has added an average of 27,000 jobs per month.

Manufacturing employment changed little over the month and has remained essentially unchanged since July. In November, fabricated metal products added 8,000 jobs, while electronic instruments lost 2,000 jobs.

Construction employment showed little movement in November. Employment in the industry has shown little change, on net, since early 2010.

Government employment continued to trend down in November, with a decline in the U.S. Postal Service (-5,000). Employment in both state government and local government has been trending down since the second half of 2008.

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