PITTSBURGH - A solid November employment report, released by the Labor Department, indicates an economic up-swing, says Stuart Hoffman, PNC Bank Corp.'s chief economist.

According to Mr. Hoffman, "The job market is showing steady improvement, despite well-publicized layoff announcements. Payroll jobs rose by just over 200,000 in November and those gains included more manufacturing and construction jobs."

"The 0.4 [percentage point] drop in the unemployment rate to 6.4% overstates the improvement in the job market last month. Still, an unemployment rate close to 6.5% is well below the 7.3% rate a year ago," Mr. Hoffman adds.

In addition, he says, "The improvement in the job market underlies the recent gains recorded in consumer-confidence surveys. A greater feeling of job security is one of the most important factors in determining consumer sentiment an spending."

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