The November unemployment rate released this morning declined from 7.9% to 7.7% as more people stopped looking for work, the Labor Department said.
The mixed bag of data showed that the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November -- that's below the average of 151,000 per month since the beginning of this year.
In November, employment rose in retail trade, professional and business services, and health care. Employment in construction fields dropped 20,000. Much of the loss in construction occurred in construction of buildings (down 11,000). Since early 2010, employment in construction has shown no clear trend, according to the bureau.
The Labor Department also said the months of October and September added fewer jobs -- 49,000 fewer jobs -- than originally estimated.
Retail trade employment rose by 53,000 in November and has increased by 140,000 over the past three months.