The unemployment rate has dropped unexpectedly to 7.7%, the lowest rate since December 2008.
146,000 new jobs were added, dashing concerns that Superstorm Sandy may have been a drag on employment. The better-than-expected data explains why consumers have been so upbeat on the economy.
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Analysts had predicted that anywhere from 80,000 to 86,000 new jobs would have been created and that the unemployment rate would hold steady at 7.9%.
On the weekly front, claims showed that Sandy did have a temporary effect. Claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week by 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000 for the week ended December 1.
The four-week moving average of jobs data showed an increase of 2250 to a seasonally adjusted 408,000.
The Department of Labor noted that weekly numbers are particularly volatile toward the end of the year. Industries like construction and agriculture have planned layoffs.
An average of 170,000 jobs were added per month from August through October.
Those claiming unemployment benefits for longer than one week
fell by 100,000 to 3,250,000 during the week ended November 24. Those claims are reported on a one-week lag.
Claims for benefits were equivalent to 2.5% of employed workers paying into the system in the week ended November 24.
Revisions to the October monthly report are not so buoyant with the number of new jobs revised downward to 138,000 from the initially reported 171,000 and September revised downward to 132,000 from the initially reported 148,000.
The monthly average after those revisions
is now 151,000. And it’s possible that Sandy could cause the November numbers also to be revised downward at a later date.