Unemployment rate steady as economy adds 321,000 jobs

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The U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November and the gains were widespread, led by professional and business services, retail trade, health care and manufacturing, the government reported today.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent — a six-year low — and the number of unemployed people was little changed, at 9.1 million.

Reuters said employers added the largest number of workers in three years in November and wages increased. The news agency also said November marked the 10th straight month that job growth has exceeded 200,000, the longest stretch since 1994.

The government revised its numbers for September and October to show that 44,000 more jobs were created than previously reported.

“You’ve got this really nice dynamic going on in that there’s more jobs growth, more spending, stronger GDP growth, which in turn means more jobs being created,” Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for IHS Inc. in Lexington, Mass., told Bloomberg. “It’s just a very good cycle to be in right now for the United States.”

The government said professional and business services employment rose by 86,000 in November, compared with an average gain of 57,000 during the previous 12 months. Retail employment rose by 50,000 in November, compared with an average gain of 22,000 a month during the same period. Health care added 29,000 jobs in November and manufacturing added 28,000.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed, at 2.8 million, in November. They accounted for 30.7 percent of those without jobs, the government said.

The number of people who were employed part time for economic reasons was 6.9 million, also little changed in November. Those people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

A total of 2.1 million people were marginally attached to the labor force in November, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)

Those people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job during the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work during the four weeks that preceded the survey.

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