The U.S. economy created 120,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.6%, its lowest level in more than two and a half years, the Labor Department said Friday.

The reduction in the jobless rate, which stood at 9.0% in October, stemmed in large part from a decline in the size of the labor force. Some 315,000 people stopped looking for jobs last month, which is usually not a good sign.

Yet the decline in the labor force is belied by other evidence showing that companies continue to add workers at a modest pace. The increase in hiring in November was accompanied by revisions in the October and September data that show an additional 72,000 jobs were created.

What’s more, the labor force had increased by nearly 1 million people in the three months before November, suggesting that more jobs are available.