U.S. unemployment drops to 8.6 percent as people leave workforce

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The national unemployment rate fell four-tenths of a percentage point to 8.6 percent in October, its lowest level since March 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning.

Despite the lowered rate, there was not immediate cheering from The White House because the number of jobs gained , which is listed in a separate survey, only totalled 120,000 -- just about enough to keep unemployment steady in a regular month.

Alan B. Krueger, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, noted that in the survey of households, which is what determines the unemployment rate, more than half of the falling unemployment rate was a result of people dropping out of the labor force.

"We need faster growth to put more Americans back to work," he said in a statement released after the labor department issued its monthly report.

Local unemployment numbers for November are not yet available, but the October unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was 8.1 percent.

Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.


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