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November's numbers which show better than expected job gains and a slight increase in worker earnings are bright spots for the U.S. economy, but many long-term unemployed are still having difficulty getting back into the workforce and "recovery" remains elusive for them.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week said employers added 321,000 jobs in November. According to Tribune Washington reporter Don Lee, while many of those were retail jobs associated with the holiday shopping season, there was also "a burst of new hires in the better-paying business services category that includes computer programmers and engineers. Manufacturing, construction, health care and financial services all added a solid batch of jobs last month."

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Average wages also increased 9 cents to $24.66 from the previous month. Over the year, the Bureau noted, wages have increased an average 2.1 percent.

In a statement commenting on the report, President Barack Obama last week said, "It's been a long road to recovery from the worst economic crisis in generations, and we still have a lot more work to do to make sure that hardworking Americans' wages are growing faster. But the United States continues to outpace most of the world. Over the last four years, we've put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all other industrialized advanced countries combined. And we're going to keep at it until every single American who is willing and able to work can find not just any job, but a job that pays a decent wage and allows them to support their families."

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Making sure that everyone who is "willing and able to work" finds a job, however, is going to take much more work.

While the job numbers exceeded expectations for the month, the unemployment rate remained the same as more people who have been out of the workforce looked to get back in. The Bureau noted that 9.1 million people are still out of work. The number of people unemployed for more than 27 weeks was 2.8 million in November, accounting for 30.7 percent of the unemployed. For them, the recovery and financial stability remains outside their grasp.

Job growth has been stronger in recent months with the U.S. averaging 278,000 a month over the September, October, November period. But the economy will have to get a lot stronger to help the millions of Americans who are still looking for work or, worse, have given up because they don't think there are any jobs out there for them.

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