(CNNMoney) -- Modest hiring continued in November and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly four years, according to a report released Friday.

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The U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 7.9% in October, the Labor Department said. While that's the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008, it fell due mainly to workers dropping out of the labor force.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney had predicted that only 77,000 jobs were added in November and that the unemployment rate had risen to 8%, factoring in distortions from Superstorm Sandy. But the Labor Department said it was still able to collect a normal level of responses to its survey, even in areas affected by the storm.

"Our analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November," the Labor Department said in a press release.

The Labor Department typically revises its jobs numbers several times. In Friday's report, job growth was revised lower in both September and October, subtracting 49,000 jobs from the 2012 total.

Of the job gains in November, more than a third, or 52,600, came from retailers, but much of that was likely due to temporary holiday hiring.

Economists at the Labor Department try to adjust for seasonal trends like holiday hiring, but this year the raw data showed retailers hired more workers in November than any other month on record since 1939.

Professional business services hired 43,000 workers in November, seasonally adjusted. Health care added 20,000 jobs.

Stock futures turned higher after the report was released.

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