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The U.S. economy added 203,000 jobs in November as the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent, according to the the Labor Department's last jobs report of the year. That is the lowest unemployment percentage since November 2008.

The figures beat estimates on both counts: economists expected to see 180,000 new jobs in November, and a more modest drop in the unemployment rate. 

Among the fastest growing sectors in November were transportation and warehousing, which went up 31,000 and healthcare, which added 28,000 jobs. Government employment continued its long decline.

One indicator to which economists have been paying particularly close attention is the number of long-term unemployed, those who've been out of work for 27 weeks or more. That figure didn't change much in November, including 4.1 million people — or about 37 percent of the unemployed population. Democrats have made an extension benefits for this group a pivotal part of on-going negotiations over the budget.

There is often variability with the data month-over-month, but revisions to previous reports were small. September's numbers were increased by 12,000 new jobs to 175,000; October's were lowered by 4,000 to 200,000.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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