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US jobless rate plunges to 8.6%

Yet 315,000 gave up hunt for work

By Catherine Rampell
New York Times / December 3, 2011
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Somehow the U.S. economy appears to be getting better, even as the rest of the world is looking worse. In the midst of the European debt crisis, lingering instability in the oil-rich Middle East and concerns about a Chinese economic slowdown, the U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped last month to 8.6 percent, its lowest level in two and a half years. The nation’s employers modestly increased their hiring, too, the Labor Department said Friday.

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