US companies have cut 3.5 million jobs since January, a year in which the economy added fewer than 200,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate rose to 6.9% in November from 6.7% in October, the Labor Department said Friday.
The job losses were partly offset by a boost to payrolls and a surge in business investment, according to the Labor department.
The labor force participation rate — the share of the labor force employed — also rose to 62.7%, the lowest since February 2015.
The hiring gains came as many companies were cutting jobs to stay competitive, particularly in industries like food services and retail.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to an all-time low in October.
The rate declined for the first time in nearly two years.
“The unemployment numbers are still disappointing but that’s really the point.
We are doing what we need to do to get back to full employment,” said Stephen Schwartz, chief investment officer at Cushman & Frierson.
The number of jobs lost by US companies in November was higher than the total number of job openings since February 2017, when the economy expanded by nearly a million.
That includes new hires and part-time workers.
The Labor Department says the total is likely to be higher, due to the drop in job openings and part time workers.
The Labor Department also revised down the number of businesses reporting earnings per share above $10,000, as the number who said they had added jobs rose to 10.5% from 10.4%.
The unemployment figure also declined to 7.7%.
Including part-timers and part job seekers, the number fell to 8.3% from 8.5%.
The unemployment rate for those without jobs fell to 6%.
The job loss report comes as the Fed is trying to ease monetary policy by buying $85 billion in mortgage-backed securities and $2.5 billion in Treasury bonds.
The Federal Reserve is trying, however, to keep inflation below 2% this year, and is holding off on raising interest rates.
Fed officials say they need to keep the central bank’s balance sheet stable, and that they expect to cut rates to near zero next year to help keep inflation from rising above 2%.
Fed officials have said that they have not ruled out the possibility of raising interest costs and raising rates further.
They also said that while inflation is unlikely to rise to 2%, the economy would likely need to expand 2% in 2017 and 2% by 2021.