US unemployment falls to 7 percent on 203K jobs added
Published 10:24 am Friday, December 6, 2013
WASHINGTON — A fourth straight month of solid hiring cut the U.S. unemployment rate in November to a five-year low of 7 percent. The surprisingly robust job gain suggested that the economy may have begun to accelerate.
It also fueled speculation that the Federal Reserve will scale back its economic stimulus when it meets later this month.
Employers added 203,000 jobs last month after adding 200,000 in October, the Labor Department said Friday. November’s job gain helped lower the unemployment rate from 7.3 percent in October.
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The economy has now generated a four-month average of 204,000 jobs from August through November. That’s up from 159,000 a month from April through July.
Evidence of a stronger job market cheered stock investors, who sent the Standard & Poor’s 500 and Dow Jones industrial average futures up 1 percent before stock markets opened.
An especially encouraging sign was that much of November’s job growth was in higher-paying industries. Manufacturers added 27,000 jobs, the most since March 2012. Construction companies added 17,000. The two industries have created a combined 113,000 jobs in the past four months.
Friday’s report follows other positive news. The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.6 percent in the July-September quarter, the fastest growth since early 2012, though nearly half that gain came from businesses rebuilding stockpiles. Consumer spending grew at the slowest pace since late 2009.