US unemployment falls
- Published: 7/12/2012 at 08:41 PM
- Online news:
WASHINGTON: The US economy added a solid 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, the lowest since December 2008, the government said on Friday.
The Labor Department said that Superstorm Sandy had only a minimal effect on the job figures.
However, other analysts pointed out that the lower unemployment rate reflected a shrinking workforce overall as many people had given up looking for work.
The Labor Department report offered a mixed picture for the economy.
Hiring remained steady during the storm and in the face of looming tax increases. But the government said its revised figures showed that employers added 49,000 fewer jobs in October and September than initially estimated.
And the unemployment rate fell from 7.9% in October mostly because more people stopped looking for work and weren't counted as unemployed.
Still, there were signs that the storm had disrupted economic activity. Construction employment dropped by 20,000. As well, weather prevented 369,000 people from getting to work but they were still counted as employed.
Employment continues to be held back by fear among businesses that the government may fail to prevent the $600 billion in automatic tax increases and government spending cuts set to take hold in January.
"Once Washington policymakers resolve the near-term fiscal and other policy challenges that have undermined business confidence, we expect the pace of recovery, and job growth to begin to accelerate next year," said Lewis Alexander, chief economist at Nomura Securities in New York.
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