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Unemployment Falls to 7% For 1st Time in 5 Years - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Unemployment Falls to 7% For 1st Time in 5 Years

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Has the job market finally hit its stride? Hiring continued at a solid pace in November, and the unemployment rate fell for the right reasons.

The U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs in November. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney had predicted payroll gains of 183,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.0% -- the lowest level since November 2008, as more people said they got jobs and joined the labor force.

This is encouraging news for the 11 million Americans who remain unemployed. The job market has been improving for three years now, but at a frustratingly slow pace.

The hiring was broad based, with big gains for sectors that tend to pay low wages as well as those that offer higher salaries. While retailers, restaurants and bars all hired more workers, traditionally higher wage sectors boasted even stronger job growth.

Take for example, professional and business services, which added 35,000 jobs; the transportation and warehousing sector, which added 30,500 jobs; and health care, which added 28,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, manufacturers hired 27,000 workers and construction companies hired 17,000.

The federal government continued to cut jobs, but state and local governments more than made up for those losses, hiring 14,000 workers.

Still, the job market has a long way to go until it's entirely healed.

Only about 63% of Americans over the age of 16 participate in the job market -- meaning they either have a job or are looking for one. This percentage is near its lowest levels since 1978, driven partly by Baby Boomers retiring, but also by workers simply giving up hope.

Economists hope that the consistently stronger hiring growth could help convince some of these job market dropouts to look for work once again.

The United States lost 8.7 million jobs in the aftermath of the financial crisis. As of November, it had gained about 7.4 million of those jobs back.

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