The United States added 245,000 jobs in November, the fewest since April and the latest sign that hiring has slowed sharply during a resurgent coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the jobless rate in November improved to a still-high 6.7% from 6.9% in October.
The November job gains were far fewer than the 610,000 in October, and the fifth straight month job growth has slowed in the U.S.
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Friday's report reflects employers' apparent reluctance or inability to hire workers as another wave of coronavirus infections in the U.S. has been setting new daily records, forcing them to close their businesses again.
Before the coronavirus crisis, November's gains would have been considered solid, but there are still about 10 million fewer U.S. jobs than there were before the pandemic.
Faster hiring of people who were laid off during the pandemic-induced recession would help them return quickly to the work force. But winter's arrival could discourage spending and job creation, particularly in the restaurant and other sectors that have begun to rely more on business outdoors.
Congress has renewed efforts to pass another rescue aid package for the millions of jobless people in the U.S. If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement in coming days, they will be left without any federal or state unemployment aid beginning after Christmas.