Jobless Rate Hits 32-Month Low

November unemployment dropped to 8.6 percent—the lowest level in two and a half years—from 9 percent the previous month, the Labor Department reported. The dip is attributed to the roughly 315,000 unemployed workers who have fallen out of the count by giving up on their job search, as well as a seasonal uptick in retail jobs fueled by holiday shopping. Retail trades added 50,000 jobs in November, the report said. Still, weekly unemployment claims have fallen, and real unemployment figures, which factor in discouraged workers, also took a dip, signaling a move in the right direction. Stocks rallied in early market trading on the positive data.

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