Employers added 146,000 new jobs in November, decreasing the unemployment rate by two-tenths of a percent to 7.7 percent, the lowest level in four years, despite the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employment increased in retail trade, professional and business services and health care. However, the number of unemployed persons, at 12.0 million, changed little.

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., contended that the jobs report showed the need for tax reform. “The fact that the unemployment rate remains this high is why it is so important that we find a balanced solution to the fiscal cliff that does not put the jobs of middle-class Americans at risk,” he said. “Every credible study has shown that the President’s insistence on higher tax rates will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Tax reform, however, can raise revenue, make the code fairer and simpler, and help strengthen the economy.  I urge the President to look at today’s numbers and abandon his push for higher tax rates that threatens middle-class jobs. Comprehensive tax reform, which is supported by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, can help solve both the fiscal and jobs crisis we face in this country.”

His Democratic counterpart on the Ways and Means Committee, ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., came to the opposite conclusion. “Today’s report provides fresh evidence of a continuing recovery and adds urgency for Republicans to end their intransigence over tax rates and come to the table to resolve the end of year issues,” he said in a statement. “We can come together and extend tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, strengthen our economy and move forward on balanced deficit reduction. The only thing standing in the way of providing certainty to citizens and businesses is that Republicans in Congress continue to place their pledge to Grover Norquist above their responsibility to the American people.”

Since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the average monthly job gain of 153,000 in 2011, the BLS report noted. Retail trade employment rose by 53,000 in November and has increased by 140,000 over the past three months. Over the month, job gains occurred in clothing and clothing accessory stores (+33,000), in general merchandise stores (+10,000), and in electronics and appliance stores (+9,000). Employment in miscellaneous store retailers decreased by 13,000.

In November, employment in professional and business services rose by 43,000. Employment continued to increase in computer systems design and related services.

Health care employment continued to increase in November (+20,000), with gains in hospitals (+8,000) and in nursing care facilities (+5,000). Health care has added an average of 26,000 jobs per month this year.
Employment in wholesale trade edged up over the month (+13,000). Since reaching an employment trough in May 2010, the industry has added 228,000 jobs.

Information employment also edged up in November (+12,000), with the increase concentrated in motion picture and sound recording (+15,000). On net, information employment has changed little over the past 12 months.

In November, leisure and hospitality employment continued to trend up (+23,000). Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 305,000 jobs.

Employment in construction declined by 20,000 in November, with much of the loss occurring in construction of buildings (-11,000). Since early 2010, employment in construction has shown no clear trend.

Manufacturing employment changed little over the month. Within the industry, job losses in food manufacturing (-12,000) and chemicals (-9,000) more than offset gains in motor vehicles and parts (+10,000) and wood products (+3,000). On net, manufacturing employment has changed little since this past spring.

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and government, showed little change in November.