America added 263,000 jobs in November

The US economy added 263,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate remained stable at 3.7 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

Economists expected the economy to add 200,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 3.7%. The forecast range of economists polled by Econoday was between a gain on the wage bill of 150,000 to 275,000. On unemployment, the forecast range was 3.6% to 3.8%.

The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed there were 10.3 million job openings at the end of October, or about 1.7 vacancy for each unemployed person. Federal Reserve officials frequently cite the vacancy rate as evidence that the labor market is so tight it risks fueling inflation.

Employer demand for labor has proven very resilient, adding to payrolls and job vacancies even as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates at the fastest pace in decades. The bottom of the Fed’s benchmark rate range has risen from zero at the start of the year to 3.75% today. The Fed is expected to announce a 50 basis point hike at its December meeting.

“In the labor market, the demand for workers far exceeds the supply of available workers, and nominal wages have grown at a rate well above what would be consistent with 2% inflation over time. So another condition we’re looking for is the restoration of the balance between supply and demand in the labor market,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said this week.

Labor supply has been consistently below pre-pandemic levels, with a larger share of Americans preferring to stay out of the labor force. The Labor Department said Friday that the labor force participation rate, at 62.1%, and the employment-to-population ratio, at 59.9%, were little changed in November and little changed since the start of this year.

Leisure and hospitality added 88,000 jobs, including a gain of 62,000 in bars and restaurants. Health care added 45,000 jobs. Public employment increased by 42,000, including 32,000 in local government. Construction employment increased by 20,000 despite the slump in the housing market. Manufacturers added 14,000 jobs, less than half the monthly average this year. Despite headlines about tech layoffs, information technology companies have added 19,000 jobs.

Employment in transportation and warehousing fell by 15,000 in November and has fallen by 38,000 since July. Retail jobs fell by 30,000 in November. General merchandise stores cut 32,000 jobs, electronics and appliance stores cut 4,000 jobs, and furniture stores cut payrolls by 3,000. Car dealerships added 10,000 jobs. Retail trade employment is down 62,000 since August.

The average hourly wage of all employees in the non-agricultural private sector increased by 0.6%. Over the past 12 months, the average hourly wage has increased by 5.1%, which is well below the rate of inflation. In November, the average hourly wage of private sector production and non-management employees increased by 0.7%.

Figures for previous months have been revised in the opposite direction. September was revised down by 46,000, from 315,000 to 269,000. October was revised up by 23,000, from 261,000 to 284,000. With these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 23,000 lower than previously reported numbers.


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