The national unemployment rate dipped to its lowest level in more than 30 months, falling to 8.6 percent in November.
That rate is 1.2 percenatge points lower than a year ago and marks the first time the rate has fallen below 9 percent since March. The rate had hovered between 9 percent and 9.2 percent since April.
In all, the economy added 120,000 jobs for the month, mainly in the retail, hospitality, professional services and health care fields. Government employment continued to drop.
The number of unemployed also fell by 594,000, coming in at 13.3 million. Another 2.6 million were marginally attached to the workforce, which means they are available for work and have searched for work in the prior 12 months, but did not look for a job in the prior four weeks.
The retail trade sector led the way, adding 55,000 jobs in November, followed by professional and business services, which added 33,000 jobs. In all the economy picked up 140,000 private sector jobs, while losing 20,000 government jobs. In all, about 500,000 government jobs have been lost since the start of the recession.