Employers added only 39,000 jobs last month, a sharp decline from the 172,000 created in October. The weakness was widespread.
Retailers, factories, construction companies, financial firms and the government all cut jobs last month.
Private companies - the backbone of the economy - created 50,000 jobs.
That was down significantly from the 160,000 private-sector jobs created in October and was the smallest gain since January.
With hiring so weak, the unemployment rate rose from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent.
The jobless rate has now topped 9 percent for 19 straight months, the longest stretch on record.