Economy Adds 203,000 Jobs, Unemployment Declines to 5-Year Low

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its November jobs report today, and the news is better than expected. The Labor Department had predicted gains of 185,000 jobs, and a decline of 0.1 percent in unemployment; the actual numbers were 203,000 added jobs, and a decline of 0.3 percent for a total unemployment rate of 7 percent.

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(Photo Credit: brownpau/Flickr)

Those numbers aren't astronomically better than previous months -- The New York Times points out the jobs number hovered around 198,000 for the first nine months of the year -- but they do represent an improvement over the summer doldrums.

It's also important to note that the "decline hasn't been solely driven by the creation of high-paying full-time jobs," notes Jim Baird, chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

The BLs reports that wages have risen 48 cents or 2 percent hourly over the course of the year. Last month, average hourly earnings rose 4 cents to $24.15. The PayScale Index predicts a 0.8 percent growth in wages for Q4 2013.

Still, this jobs report, combined with the better-than-expected ADP report on Wednesday, seems to indicate that the economy is, at the very least holding steady, if not improving. Some economists are speculating that the Federal Reserve might scale back their stimulus efforts.

Even better, there were some signs that workers are feeling more confident about their employment situation.

"The number of unemployed workers fell sharply in November, but the number of people looking for work because they'd quit their jobs actually rose by 32,000," writes Ben Casselman at The Wall Street Journal. "That could be a sign workers are becoming more confident in their prospects. The number of 'discouraged workers' -- those who've given up looking because they can't find jobs -- is down by more than 20 percent over the past year."

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