Many analysts thought Sandy would hold back job growth significantly in November because the storm forced restaurants, retailers and other businesses to close in late October and early November.
It didn't. The government noted that as long as employees worked at least one day during a pay period — two weeks for most people — its survey would have counted them as employed.
Yet there were signs that the storm disrupted economic activity in November. Construction employment dropped 20,000. And weather prevented 369,000 people from getting to work — the most for any month in nearly two years. These workers were still counted as employed.
All told, 12 million people were unemployed in November, about 230,000 fewer than the previous month. That's still many more than the 7.6 million who were out of work when the recession officially began in December 2007.
Investors appeared pleased with the report, though the market gave up some early gains. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 53 points in mid-day trading.
The number of Americans who were working part time in November but wanted full-time work declined. And a measure of discouraged workers — those who wanted a job but hadn't searched for one in the past month — rose slightly.
Those two groups, plus the 12 million unemployed, make up a broader measure that the government calls "underemployment." The underemployment rate fell to 14.4 percent in November from 14.6 percent in October. It's the lowest such rate since January 2009.
Since July, the economy has added an average of 158,000 jobs a month. That's a modest pickup from an average of 146,000 in the first six months of the year.
In November, retailers added 53,000 positions. Temporary-help companies added 18,000. Education and health care also gained 18,000.
Auto manufacturers added nearly 10,000 jobs. Still, overall manufacturing jobs fell 7,000. That was pushed down by a loss of 12,000 jobs in food manufacturing that likely reflects the layoff of workers at Hostess.