National jobless rate falls to lowest level since March 2009
The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level in more than two and a half years as employers stepped up hiring in response to the slowly improving economy. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% last month from 9% in October. The rate hasn't been that low since March 2009. Nonetheless, 13.3 million Americans remain unemployed, and a key reason the unemployment rate fell so much was that roughly 315,000 people had given up looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. Employers added 120,000 jobs last month. And the previous two months were revised upward to show that 72,000 more jobs were added—the fourth straight month the government revised prior months higher. Private employers added a net gain of 140,000 jobs last month. Governments, meanwhile, shed another 20,000 jobs, mostly at the local and state levels. Governments at all levels have shed almost a half-million jobs in the past year. More than half the jobs added were by retailers, restaurants and bars, a sign that holiday hiring has kicked in. Retailers added 50,000 jobs, the sector's biggest gain since April. Restaurants and bars hired 33,000 new workers. The health care industry added 17,000. Read the full story from The Associated Press here.
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