The unemployment rate unexpectedly shot up to 6% in November and the economy shed 40,000 jobs, as weakness in the manufacturing and retail sectors continued to offset gains among service companies and brought the total number of jobs lost to 1.6 million over the past 21 months.
The jump from October's 5.7% rate puts joblessness at its highest level since April and topped economists' consensus forecast of 5.8%. The economy had also been expected to add about 45,000 jobs last month and the surprising contraction sent stock futures broadly lower after the report was released. Treasuries were rallying.
Tempering but hardly eliminating the pain was news that October payrolls were revised to show a 6,000 increase compared with the previously reported 5,000 drop, while September payrolls fell by 4,000 in September, a milder drop than the previously reported 13,000 decline. Average hourly earnings rose three-tenths of a percent in October.
Among sectors, manufacturing shed 45,000 jobs while retail trade lost 39,000. The services sector added 50,000 jobs.
The pool of available workers rose to 13.2 million in November from 12.7 million in October. The percentage of the U.S. population holding jobs fell to 62.5% in November from 62.9% in October.