U.S. added more jobs in November and jobless rate fell unexpectedly to the lowest point since March 2009. Revised data show that hiring in early fall grew faster than initially reported. All signs indicate a moderate recovery in the labor market.
The unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in November, from 9 percent, the Labor Department figures showed Friday. From April through October, the rate held in a narrow range from 9.0 to 9.2 percent. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters weren't expecting any change.
The number of unemployed persons, at 13.3 million, was down by 594,000 in November.
Employers added 120,000 people to their payrolls, with retailers accounting for more than half of the jobs created. November's figure is in line with the average gain of 131,000 jobs for the prior 12 months. Economists called for a gain of 123,000.
September result was revised from 158,000 to a final version of 210,000, and October was revised up from an initially reported 80,000 to 100,000.
Though today's number slightly fell short of the consensus, there's a good chance for an upward revision. So far this year, seven out of 10 months' preliminary results were revised higher. The November figure will be revised two more times before it is finalized.
The private sector added 140,000 jobs after a revised gain of 117,000, as employment rose in a number of service-providing industries, while government employment continued to trend down.
The labor force participation rate declined to 64 percent from 64.2 percent.
Employment in retail trade rose by 50,000 in November, with much of the increase occurring in clothing and clothing accessories stores and in electronics and appliance stores, which added 27,000 and 5,000 jobs, respectively. Since reaching an employment trough in December 2009, retailers have added an average of 14,000 jobs per month.
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased in November by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $23.18. This decline followed a gain of 7 cents in October. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.8 percent. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.3 hours.