Unemployment drops to 8.6 percent as economy adds 120,000 jobs

Zachary Roth

The economy added 120,000 jobs last month, and the jobless rate fell to 8.6 percent, the government said Friday morning. The news offered the latest signs that the slow recovery is continuing, and the economy is not currently in danger of falling back into a recession.

The job gains for November did little more than keep pace with growth. But employment figures for October and September were also revised upward.

Still, the news wasn't all good. The drop in the overall unemployment rate, down from 9 percent in October, was due in part to workers growing discouraged and dropping out of the labor force. And the average duration of joblessness rose to an all-time high of 40.9 weeks.

President Obama has lately been pressing Congress to extend the payroll tax cut and federal jobless benefits, both of which are scheduled to expire at the end of the month. Both measures, especially the tax cut, are expected to boost hiring.