The overall unemployment numbers for November fell to 7.7 percent, a level not seen since 2008, reported the Labor Department on Friday. While not as historic, the African-American unemployment rate, while still disproportionately high, dipped to 13.2 percent from 14.3 percent in October.
African-American joblessness fell from 40.5 to 39.4 percent.
According to a report the Labor Department released Thursday, the number of people filing for unemployment insurance dropped by 25,000, but the four-week average increased slightly to 408,000. In Friday's job report, it said the economy added 146,000 jobs, fewer than October's high of 171,000.
The November figures also may have been muddied by the stalemate between President Obama and congressional Republicans. Their inability to reach an agreement over raising taxes on the wealthy is pushing the nation dangerously close to the Dec. 31 deadline that will trigger automatic reductions to many discretionary domestic programs and the defense budget, and tax rates would increase for everybody, an outcome collectively known as the fiscal cliff. The job growth suggests that most employers aren't yet delaying hiring because of the fiscal cliff, writes the Associated Press.
"While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression," said Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers.
Krueger also pushed Congress to extend the middle-class tax cuts, support the president's proposal to help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages and pass measures in the American Jobs Act, including infrastructure investments that would create jobs.
Two consecutive months of steady job growth and an improving unemployment rate left many hoping that the signs were not flukes but a trend. Then superstorm Sandy struck, causing billions of dollars in damage, businesses to shutter — some temporarily, others forever — and people to lose jobs.
"Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the job market in November, slicing an estimated 86,000 from payrolls," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics in ADP's monthly employment report, adding that various industries were hit particularly hard. "Abstracting from the storm, the job market turned in a good performance during the month."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) used the jobs report to underscore the Republican Party's position against raising taxes on the nation's top earners.
"Today's unemployment report underscores how important it is that we focus on jobs. Millions of hard working Americans are fixated on finding a job, yet President Obama is fixated on taking more money from those that could hire them," Cantor said in a statement.
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