WASHINGTON (AP/WCBS 880/CBS 2/1010 WINS) – The nation’s unemployment rate climbed to 9.8 percent in November, a seven-month high, as hiring slowed.

Employers added only 39,000 jobs last month, a sharp decline from the 172,000 created in October, the Labor Department reported Friday. The weakness was widespread. Retailers, factories, construction companies, financial firms and the government all cut jobs last month.

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David Bailey, of Newburgh, has been struggling to get and keep jobs. He’s been staying home with his children since he lost his last job in October.

“It’s been real rough for the last two, three years,” Bailey told CBS 2’s Alexis Christoforous.

For people like Bailey, who are struggling to make ends meet, the tight job market continues to be frustrating.

“I didn’t think I’d still be sitting here unemployed. I’ve got applications out there, and just the phone’s not ringing,” Christoforous said.

Many economists were predicting the addition of nearly 150,000 jobs. The economy has recently flashed signs of gaining momentum with busier factories, rising auto sales and a good start to the holiday shopping season. But that didn’t translate into mass hiring in November.

Wall Street took the latest jobs report in stride, even though the unemployment rate is now above 9 percent for a record 19 straight months.

“It’s nice to see that this market has shrugged off some of this bad information — this bad economic data — and is trying to stabilize itself and move forward,” NYSE Floor Trader Jonathan Corpina said.

In fact, private companies – the backbone of the economy – created 50,000 jobs. That was down significantly from the 160,000 private-sector jobs created in October and was the smallest gain since January.

“It’s hurting because…I’ve got to get these little Mickey Mouse jobs to make my ends meet,” one man, who was at the FEGS Job Board in Lower Manhattan, told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan.

1010 WINS Reporter Terry Sheridan with the discouraging jobs report.

One man named Thomas spoke with Sheridan and said he’s been looking for a full-time job for over a year since he has had a knee replaced.

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“I have to go to physical therapy, then I have to go look for a job.  I don’t want to go on Welfare — because that’s a waste of time,” he said.

Eric Schurenberg, the Editor-In-Chief at CBS MoneyWatch, spoke with WCBS 880 about the economic news.

Unemployment numbers go up, expert says holiday shopping could help economy.

“It was a big disappointment, Schurenberg said of the job creation numbers, “51,000 jobs in the private sector, that’s just not good enough.”

“This is a recovery that takes two steps forward and one step back — this is probably worse than most recoveries, in fact, it’s way worse that most recoveries, he said.

With hiring so weak, the unemployment rate rose from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent. The jobless rate has now topped 9 percent for 19 straight months, the longest stretch on record.

All told there were 15.1 million people unemployed in November.

Adding those unemployed people to others who are working part time but would prefer full-time jobs and those who have given up looking for work, 17 percent of the labor force is “underemployed.” That was the same as October. Still, the figure remains close to a record high set last year.

Another grim figure: There was a record 1.3 million “discouraged” workers in November. Those are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available to them.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb with Bloomberg on unemployment benefits

Before the lame-duck Congress adjourns later this month, lawmakers are expected to pass legislation renewing aid to the unemployed.

Extended benefit programs that provide up to 99 weeks of extra aid to the unemployed expired at the end of November because Congress failed to extend them. Nearly 2 million stand to lose unemployment benefits as the holiday season arrives.

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