Still, most analysts say the underlying economy remains healthy and is creating jobs at a modest but steady pace.
Without the depressive effects of Superstorm Sandy and the cliff, many think employers would have added up to 200,000 jobs last month — even stronger than the solid 171,000 jobs added in October. And it would be better than the 174,000 jobs a month averaged in the July-September quarter.
The number of people continuing to receive unemployment aid also fell. Total recipients dropped almost 225,000 to just under 5 million in the week ended Nov. 17, the latest data available.