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Jobless Dip May Overstate Economic Improvement

The unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly to 8.6 percent in November, in part because hundreds of thousands of Americans stopped looking for work. But analysts said the modest increase of 120,000 jobs created last month points to an economy that's generally still limping.

Unemployment Rate Drops To 8.6 Percent; 120,000 Jobs Added

The highly anticipated news brought a surprise: The unemployment rate had been expected to stay at 9 percent. But it fell in part because of an increase in the number of "discouraged" workers. They've given up looking for jobs.

Merkel, Sarkozy Push For Fiscal Change In Eurozone

Time is running out for European leaders to find a way out of their debt crisis and salvage the euro as the single currency for 17 nations. As they prepare for a European Union summit next week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have presented their plans to their respective countries.

Analysts Expect Jobless Rate To Remain Unchanged

The unemployment rate began the year at 9 percent and may end essentially unchanged. While some sectors add jobs, others lose them. Private employers are modestly adding to their payrolls, but government is cutting back. All that makes for a job market that's stuck in a rut.

Housing Market Lags Other Areas Of Recovery

The housing industry continues to be a drag on the economy. David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, talks to Steve Inskeep about the state of the housing market, and possible action the administration might take to boost this critical sector of the economy.

Oil Boom Puts Strain On North Dakota Towns

A discovery of at least 2 billion barrels of oil in the western part of the state has led to an oil boom. That means a low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, but residents question the cost. "To expect a county of 20,000 people to overnight absorb another 20,000 people is ludicrous," one official says.

Sarkozy Lays Foundation For Reshaping The Eurozone

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced German-French cooperation in proposing a new European treaty to address the debt crisis. He said Europe will be strong only if there is unity between Germany and France. But he failed to provide details about specific measures.

As U.S., Europe Hack At Budgets, Pensions Get Sliced

Retirement benefits are being cut at every level, both in the U.S. and in Europe. Economic and demographic pressures may have made cuts inevitable, but they are generating strong opposition.