WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest level in 2 1/2 years.
The rate came down from 9 percent.
The U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs in November, the report said.
"Despite some strong headwinds this year, the American economy has now created in the private sector jobs for the past 21 months in a row; that's nearly 3 million new jobs in all, and more than half-a-million over the last four months," President Obama said during an event concerning employment in Washington.
"So we need to keep that growth going," Obama said, urging Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for another year and renew unemployment insurance "for Americans who are still out there pounding the pavement and looking for work."
Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said Friday's figures provided "further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is still not fast enough."
Private jobs continued to "trend up" while government jobs continued to "trend down," the report said.
In November, 13.3 million people were listed as unemployed, which was 600,000 fewer than the previous month, meaning many more workers had become discouraged and quit looking for work, which takes them out of the loop numerically.
Analysts may see through the percentage rate drop and point to the increased number of discouraged workers as the more telling figure for the month.