Washington Gearing up for the holidays, employers boosted hiring in November, and hundreds of thousands of jobseekers streamed into the market, nudging the unemployment rate up to 4.5 percent.
The Labor Department's report, released Friday, showed a national job climate that remains quite sturdy despite the troubled housing and automotive industries.
Employers added 132,000 jobs to their payrolls, an improvement from the 79,000 generated in October.
Sharing in the gains were retailers, bars and restaurants, hotels and motels, health-care providers, financial firms, computer-design outfits and architectural and engineering companies. Their increases eclipsed job losses, mostly in construction and manufacturing.
"The job market is not booming, but it is holding up relatively well despite strains from the housing and auto sectors," said Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Bank of America's Investment Strategies Group.
The unemployment rate crept up to 4.5 percent, still relatively low by historical standards. Feeling better about job prospects, people poured into the labor market looking for work last month, a factor that played a key role in pushing up the rate.
The rate had declined to 4.4 percent in October, the best showing in five years.
Workers, many of whom have seen their paychecks whittled by inflation, saw wages pick up last month. Average hourly earnings rose to $16.94, a modest 0.2 percent increase from October.