NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The unemployment rate dropped to the lowest level in more than two and a half years, falling to 8.6 percent in November, the Labor Department said Friday.

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It’s a step in the right direction after being stuck near 9 percent for most of the year, but one reason for the drop is that hundreds of thousands of people have simply given up looking for work and are no longer being counted as unemployed.

Even with the improved unemployment numbers, there are still lots od New Yorkers looking for work.

“New Yorkers are struggling. Not only do we have 9 percent unemployment city-wide, but we’ve got double-digit unemployment in Brooklyn and the Bronx and record high young adult unemployment,” said Lincoln Restler, director of New York City’s Employment and Training Coalition.

His organization holding a day long summit to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers like the Brooklyn Navy Yard which has its own development corporation.

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“We evaluate people. If they need some additional training, we send them to training,” said CEO Andrew Kimble. “But if their qualified, we try to place them right away.”

Kimble says a new retail project is expected to create thousands of jobs.

Nationwide, more than half the jobs added last month were by retailers, restaurants and bars. Professional and business services also rose. Those tend to be higher-paying jobs like engineers, accountants and high-tech workers.

Even with the recent gains, the economy isn’t close to replacing the jobs lost in the recession. Employers began shedding workers in February 2008 and cut nearly 8.7 million jobs for the next 25 months. The economy has regained about 2.5 million.

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