The U.S. economy created 146,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate slid to 7.7 percent, in a report much better than economists had expected.
Despite the effects from Superstorm Sandy, the jobs engine continued to run, albeit slowly.
The Labor Department said the storm's effects might be more accurately gauged in next months' report.
The report had some puzzling contradictions, particularly in its assertion that Sandy "did not substantively impact" the jobs count for November.
Also, the drop in the unemployment rate appeared to reflect a continued exodus of workers from the labor force.
Economists had been expecting a gain of 93,000 in nonfarm payrolls and a steadying of the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, though estimates varied widely.
Deutsche Bank's Joseph LaVorgna, for instance, forecast a gain of just 25,000 positions, due in large part to residual effects from Superstorm Sandy.
Market reserach firm TrimTabs, conversely, projected 202,000 new jobs, though it expected the government's count to be lower.
The Labor Department's initial report for October showed a gain of 171,000 jobs.
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