The U.S. economy last month created 146,000 jobs, not counting farm work, more than expected and enough to cut the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The job creation, which economists expected to be down from October's 171,000 to 93,000, was most pronounced in retail trade, professional and business services and health.

The bureau's monthly report included several cautionary statistics: The number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, was little changed at 4.8 million.

Since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the 
average monthly job gain of 153,000 in 2011.