The US unemployment rate fell in November to a nearly four-year low and job growth picked up, showing only modest improvement in the economy, government data released Friday showed.
The jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent, its lowest level since December 2008, from 7.9 percent in October, the Labor Department said, mainly due to a decline in the labor force.
The US economy added 146,000 jobs in November, but the department revised lower the October reading to 138,000 and the September figure to 132,000.
The three-month average of 139,00 jobs remained well below the roughly 250,000 pace needed on a sustained basis to significantly reduce unemployment.
"The November payroll gain was in-line with the current trend and suggests the labor market has shown no sizable change in conditions over the last 11 months," Briefing.com analysts said.
The private sector created 147,000 jobs, while government employment fell by 1,000.
The November numbers were better than expected despite Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled the northeastern coast in late October and early November.
Analysts on average had forecast the jobless rate would rise to 8.0 percent and that 90,000 net jobs were created.
Superstorm Sandy "did not substantively impact" the data, the department said.
Wall Street welcomed the jobs data. Investors sent the broad-market S&P 500 index up 0.4 percent in opening trade.