The national unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest mark in two and a half years. Businesses added 120,000 jobs according to today's U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

The agency also revised its October numbers to 100,000 new jobs, up from the 80,000 previously reported.

CBIA economist Pete Gioia acknowledged the positive impact of the November report, but cautioned that the 0.4 percent fall in the unemployment rate could have been influenced by the 315,000 people who stopped looking for work. The government does not count them as unemployed.

“The labor force participation rate is quite low at 64 percent," Gioia said. "What that is more reflective of is people being too discouraged to look for work rather than the impact of added jobs for the month.

"While it's a better report than some people thought we were going to get, we still have a long way to go on the jobs front."

Sector by sector

Retail:  Up 50,000 for November, with much of the increase occurring in clothing and electronics and appliance stores. Since a December 2009 low, retailers added an average of 14,000 jobs per month.

Leisure and hospitality:  22,000 new jobs; in the last 12 months, the sector added 253,000 jobs, largely driven by food services and drinking places.

Professional and business services:  Added 33,000 jobs, with continued modest gains in temporary help services.

Healthcare:  Added 17,000 jobs, below the 27,000 average monthly gains over the last 12 months.

Manufacturing: Little change over the month, essentially unchanged since July. In November, fabricated metal products added 8,000 jobs, while electronic instruments lost 2,000 jobs.

Construction: Little movement in November; little net change since early 2010.

Government: Downward trend continued. Employment in both state and local government trending down since the second half of 2008.