U.S. employers added 203,000 jobs in November, pushing the unemployment rate down to 7 percent, down from its previous posting of 7.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The U-6 unemployment rate, considered a broader measure of actual unemployment in the U.S., fell to 13.2 percent, down from its previous of 13.8 percent. This is the best posting since around November 2008.

The labor force participation rate increased slightly to 63.0 percent, up from its previous 62.8 percent. This economic indicator has not been this bad since March 1978:

Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again

Economists say the uptick in hiring could later cause the Federal Reserve to dial back its billion dollar bond-purchasing policies sooner than expected (March being the month most people suspect).

Industries that saw an uptick in jobs include transportation and warehousing, health care, and manufacturing.

“The employment-population ratio increased by 0.3 percentage point to 58.6 percent in November, reversing a decline of the same size in the prior month,” the bureau reported.

Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again

Here’s unemployment broken up by group:

  • Men: 6.7 Percent (previous: 7.0 percent)
  • Women: 6.2 percent (previous: 6.4 percent)
  • Teenagers: 20.8 percent (previous: 22.2 percent)
  • Whites: 6.2 percent (previous: 6.3 percent)
  • Blacks: 12.5 percent (previous: 13.1 percent)
  • Hispanics: 8.7 percent (previous: 9.1 percent)
  • Asians (not seasonally adjusted): 5.3 percent (previous: 5.2 percent)

The number of persons unemployed for less than 5 weeks fell by 300,000, “partially reflecting the return to work of federal employees on furlough in October,” the bureau reported.

The number of persons “marginally attached” to the labor force in November also held steady at 2.1 million, little changed from its previous 2.3 million.

“These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey,” the bureau reported.

It continues:

Among the marginally attached, there were 762,000 discouraged workers in November, down by 217,000 from a year ago … Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

FINAL THOUGHT: The numbers, if accurate, are encouraging. However, keep in mind the unemployment rate would be 7.9 percent percent if labor force participation were the same as it was in November 2012 and it would be 11.3 percent if that rate were at pre-recession levels. There is clearly a lot of work to be done and it may be too soon to speculate about the Fed drawing down its billion dollar policies.

Markets are poised to open higher:

Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again
Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again
Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again Unemployment Numbers Are Out – And It Looks Like the Rate Has Dropped Again

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This post has been updated.