Unemployment rate falls to 8.6%

But construction lost 12,000 jobs in November.

The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent in November, and nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Manufacturers added 2,000 jobs during the month and factory employment has remained essentially unchanged since July. In November, fabricated metal products added 8,000 jobs, while electronic instruments lost 2,000 jobs.

Construction employment fell by 12,000 jobs in November. Employment in the industry has shown little change, on net, since early 2010.

Construction employment shrank for the second straight month in November as residential, nonresidential building and heavy construction segments remained in low gear, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the employment drop reflects continued declines in public sector investments. They added that construction employment could benefit from increased transportation investments and other pro-growth measures designed to boost private sector demand.

"Industry employment has remained virtually unchanged since early 2010 despite a pickup in some private construction," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Although the construction unemployment rate fell to 13.1 percent in November from 18.8 percent a year earlier, the lack of industry job growth means former construction workers are finding work elsewhere or leaving the workforce altogether. That's ominous for future construction hiring."

Total construction employment now stands at 5,522,000, down 12,000 or 0.2 percent from a month earlier and only 18,000 (0.3 percent) higher than in November 2010, the economist said. He noted that industry employment was actually 11,000 lower than in February 2010, while the private sector as a whole added nearly 3 million jobs in that time.

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