Unemployment Rate Drops to 7.7 Percent as US Adds 146,000 Jobs

Andrew Klips  |

The impact of Hurricane Sandy smashing the Atlantic Coast was not as great as expected on jobs creation in November, according to a report today from Washington.  The U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs during the month and the unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent in October to 7.7 percent in November, the lowest level since December 2008, the Labor Department reported.

Economists were expected that the unemployment rate would hold at 7.9 percent and that only 80,000 jobs would have been added in November due to damage from superstorm Sandy that left millions without power and closed thousands of businesses in New York, New Jersey and surrounding states.

"Our analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November," said the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a press release Friday morning.

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It wasn’t the new jobs that spurred the drop in the unemployment rate, however.  The lower figure was largely attributable 350,000 people stopping to actively try and find work.  As the size of the nation’s work force shrinks, the unemployment number can contract.

The number of people saying that they have a job dropped by 122,000.

As part of the report, the Labor Department revised its September and October figures, showing that 49,000 fewer jobs were created than originally estimated.  September stats were revised upward to 148,000 from 132,000 while October was revised down to 138,000 from 171,000 new jobs created.

Prepping for the holidays, retailers led with new hires, adding 53,000 employees during November, which helped offset 20,000 construction jobs being cut as winter weather starts to set-in.

Average hourly wages climbed 4 cents to $23.63, adding 0.3 percent to total a 1.7 percent climb in salaries in the past 12 months.  The average number of hours worked in a week was flat at 34.4 hours.

In general, the mediocre trend of growth in the labor market remains intact, albeit getting a somewhat pleasant surprise by not stalling in the November jobs report.

Wall Street has responded favorably to the better-than-expected jobs info.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq indices are all modestly in the green in early trading.

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