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Unexpected drop in jobless rate sparks optimism

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A positive sign or temporary blip?

By The Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — A surprising drop in the November unemployment rate and in job losses cheered investors Friday and raised hopes for a sustained economic recovery.

The rate unexpectedly fell to 10 percent last month, from 10.2 percent in October, as employers cut the fewest number of jobs since the recession began. The better-than-expected figures provided a rare dose of good news for a labor market that's lost 7.2 million jobs in two years.

The average work week also rose, along with average earnings. And the Labor Department said 159,000 fewer jobs were lost in September and October than first reported.

The stock market jumped and Treasurys fell in response to the reports. In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average surged 110.94, or 1.1 percent. Broader stock averages also rose.

Still, the respite may be temporary. Job creation is expected to remain far too weak in coming months to absorb the 15.4 million unemployed people who are seeking work — and 11.5 million others who are either working part-time but want full-time jobs or have given up job hunting. As more people begin seeking work, the jobless rate is likely to resume rising.


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