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UNEMPLOYMENT

Jobless rate drops to lowest since 2009

The unemployment rate, which has refused to budge from the 9 percent neighborhood for 2 1/2 frustrating years, suddenly dropped in November, driven in part by small businesses that finally see reason to hope and hire.

The rate fell to 8.6 percent, the lowest since March 2009, two months after President Obama took office. Unemployment passed 9 percent that spring and stayed there or higher for all but two months since then.

The country added 120,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department said Friday. The economy has generated 100,000 or more jobs five months in a row, the first time that has happened since April 2006, well before the Great Recession.

EUROPEAN CRISIS

Italy adopts anti-debt measures

ROME — Italy’s Cabinet on Sunday adopted a package of tax increases, budget cuts and pension reforms worth 20 billion euros ($27 billion) in a rush to avoid a bankruptcy that threatens to bring down the eurozone.

“This is a decree to save Italy,” Prime Minister Mario Monti said at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting. “This is a moment in which Italy risks being responsible for helping to drag down the economy of Europe.”

He also warned that Italians had to make “sacrifices” and said he was renouncing his own salary as prime minister in a gesture of solidarity.

The three-year package includes a controversial pension reform that will increase the minimum pension age for women to 62 starting next year and fall into line with men by 2018, by which time both will retire at 66. The number of years that men have to pay contributions to receive their full pensions also will be increased from the current level of 40 to 42.

CONNECTICUT

Report: Utility not ready for October snowstorm

HARTFORD — Connecticut’s largest utility failed to put enough repair crews in place before a record-setting October snowstorm, causing delays in restoring power to customers and leaving some in the dark for up to 11 days, according to a consultant’s report released Friday.

The report by Witt Associates, led by former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt, said Connecticut Light & Power Co. was not prepared for a storm as damaging as the one on Oct. 29, which knocked out power to about 809,000 of the company’s 1.2 million customers in the state.

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