Unemployment rate falls to 7.7 percent

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Unemployment dropped to 7.7 percent in November, the lowest rate in four years, according to numbers released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Superstorm Sandy appeared to have had little effect on jobs and hiring as 146,000 jobs were added last month.

Since the beginning of this year employment growth has averaged 151,000 jobs a month, about the same as the average monthly job gain of 153,000 in 2011. In November, employment rose in retail trade, professional and business services and health care.

Retail trade employment rose by 53,000 in November and has increased by 140,000 over the past three months. During the month 33,000 jobs were added in clothing and clothing accessory stores, 10,000 added in general merchandise stores and 9,000 added in electronics and appliance stores.

Employment at miscellaneous retailers decreased by 13,000.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 43,000, continuing to increase in computer systems design and related services.

Health care employment continued to increase in November, with 20,000 new jobs.

Employment in wholesale trade edged up during the month, adding 13,000 jobs. Since it reached an employment trough in May 2010 the industry has added 228,000 jobs.

Information employment also edged up 12,000 in November, with the increase concentrated in motion picture and sound recording, where 15,000 jobs were added. On net, information employment has changed little during the past 12 months.

In November, leisure and hospitality employment continued to trend up, adding 23,000 jobs. During the past 12 months the industry has added 305,000 jobs.

Employment in construction declined by 20,000 in November, with much of the loss occurring in the construction of buildings, which was down 11,000 jobs. Since early 2010 employment in construction has shown no clear trend.

Manufacturing employment changed little during the month. Within the industry, job losses in food manufacturing (12,000) and chemicals (9,000) more than offset gains in motor vehicles and parts (10,000) and wood products (3,000). On net, manufacturing employment has changed little since this past spring.

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