The economy added 120,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today.
This is the first time in nine months that the unemployment rate has fallen below 9 percent, and the lowest rate since March 2009, as the recession was just beginning.
The biggest job gains were in retail (+50,000), food service (+33,000), and health care (+17,000).
The employment gains over the past two months were also revised upward to show that 210,000 jobs were added in September, not 158,000, and 100,000 jobs were added in October, not 80,000.
On the downside, 5.7 million people, or 43 percent of the unemployed, had been out of work for 27 weeks or more, and 1.1 million people, or 186,000 more than a year ago, were out of work and not counted as unemployed because they had given up on looking for jobs. Another 1.5 million people were out of work but had other reasons for not looking (school or family responsibilities).