Employers Gain Confidence to Hire

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Unemployment Falls to 7.0% as 203,000 Jobs Added.

U.S. employers are gaining confidence heading into year’s end, hiring at the quickest clip since before Washington’s political dysfunction rattled consumers and businesses this fall.

Payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 203,000 in November in sectors ranging from construction to health care, a striking pickup at an uncertain moment for the economy. Moreover, the jobless rate fell to 7% from 7.3%, though its declines in recent months have been driven in part by people leaving the labor force.

“It’s a pretty clear picture, one of broad-based strength,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital.

Friday’s Labor Department report confirms the U.S. economy gained a bit of momentum even as it faced October’s shutdown of the federal government, which shook confidence among consumers and business leaders. U.S. job growth over the past three months now averages 193,000. In September, the average was thought to be 143,000; it has since been revised higher.

Despite the gains, American workers still face a tough job market. More than four years into the recovery, the economy remains 1.3 million jobs short of its 2008 peakā€”even as the population has grown. And nearly 11 million Americans remain unemployed, with the ranks of those jobless for six months remaining stubbornly high at more than 4 million. Many jobless Americans are simply giving up, keeping the share of Americans either working or looking for work near a 35-year low.

Still, November’s job gains were more broad-based than in some previous months, suggesting fundamental economic improvements are reaching more parts of the economy.

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