Business, Finance & Economics

US unemployment rate drops to 8.6 percent


The debt crisis may worsen the U.S. unemployment rate. Job seekers fill out applications for employment during a job fair for San Francisco Bay Area grocery store chain Mollie Stone's Market on February 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California.


Justin Sullivan

The US unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in November, as the US government added 120,000 jobs, up from 100,000 in October, Reuters reported.

November's jobless rate was the lowest recorded since March 2009.

According to The New York Times:

The rate fell partly because more workers got jobs, but also because about 315,00 workers dropped out of the labor force, and the jobless rate counts only people who are actively looking for work. 

According to Eric Lascelles, Chief economist and RBC Global Asset Management in Toronto:

The US has clearly turned a corner. There was an inflection in early October and since then economic data has mostly been better and surprised to the upside. It's still not consistent with ebullient economic growth, it's far more consistent with sluggish to moderate growth, but even that is very welcome in the context of a global economy that's really suffering right now.

However, 13.3 million American remain unemployed.

More than half of the jobs added in November were by retailers, restaurants and bars, which is most likely due to holiday hiring.  Retailers added 50,000 jobs, which is the sector's biggest gain since April.  Restaurants and bars hired 33,000 new workers, while the health care industry added 17,000, the Associated Press reported.  

Private employers added about 140,000 jobs last month, while local and state governments shed another 20,000 jobs.

The AP reported that the government has shed almost a half-million jobs in the past year.

According to the AP, the economy has added an average of 143,000 net jobs per month, up from the previous three months, when the economy averaged about 84,000 a month.