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The good news is that the economy does not appear to be contracting. The bad news is that it’s still not growing fast enough to make up much of the ground lost during the downturn. The unemployment rate fell to 8.6% in November, from 9.0% in October and 9.8% a year ago. However, more than half of that drop was due to a decrease in labor force participation. The data suggest an economy that is growing just enough to absorb the growth in the working-age population.