US unemployment fell to its lowest for 2 ½ years in November and the number of jobs rose by 120,000, the US Department of Labor reported, adding to signs the US economy is recovering.
The monthly non-farm payroll figure, which excludes farm employees, employees of non-profit organisations, private household employees and general government employees, showed that unemployment fell 0.4 per cent to 8.6 per cent.
All the increases in the figure came from the private sector; government jobs included in the measure fell by 20,000.
September and October’s figures were also revised upwards to report that 72,000 more jobs were created in those months than previously thought.
Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics said: “The labor market is gradually healing. It's a glacial pace, but we are taking small steps in the right direction."
Unemployment had been forecast to remain stable at nine per cent.
The retail sector performed particularly strongly, adding 49,800 jobs, while temporary hiring, seen as a sign of future permanent job creation, increased from October.
Earlier this week figures showed that in October US manufacturing was at its highest since June, and construction spending also increased in that month, raising hopes of a good period of economic growth in the US.
The unemployment figures will add to the optimism, with analysts suggesting the data points to possible growth of three per cent in the fourth quarter.
This is in contrast to the recent poor forecasts for the Eurozone and the cooling of growth in China.
However, analysts caution that the US economy needs to create at least 125,000 jobs every month just to keep the unemployment rate steady.