With 50 the dividing point between contraction and expansion, the Chicago association's headline business barometer pulled out of negative territory at 49.9, advancing to 50.4.
The index had spent two months in the red.
Among composite indexes in November, the production index rose from 51.8 to 54.7 and the employment index "kept pace" with production, rising from 50.3 to 55.2.
The prices-paid index jumped from 59.3 to 70.1, a 16-month high.
The new orders index dropped from 50.6 to 45.3, its lowest reading since June 2009.
The report is produced by the Institute of Supply Management-Chicago Inc. and Deutsche Borse AG.
Among the anonymous comments listed in the report, one survey respondent said: "The economy really seems to be hanging on a thread. I do not think that upward price movements can be sustained at a time when real growth is questionable."