Unemployment rate drops to lowest since 2009

The country added 120,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department said Friday.

WASHINGTON _ The unemployment rate, which has refused to budge from the 9 percent neighborhood for two and a half frustrating years, suddenly dropped in November, driven in part by small businesses that finally see reason to hope and hire.

Economists said there was a long way to go, but they liked what they saw.

The rate fell to 8.6 percent, the lowest since March 2009, two months after President Barack Obama took office. Unemployment passed 9 percent that spring and had stayed there or higher for all but two months since then.

The country added 120,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department said Friday. The economy has generated 100,000 or more jobs five months in a row _ the first time that has happened since April 2006, well before the Great Recession.

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