Figuring out what today’s data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) really means probably will have to wait until next month. November nonfarm payrolls showed an increase of 146,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%.
The consensus forecast for job growth called for adding just 80,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate was expected to remain unchanged at 7.9%. But the estimates — and the final numbers — were certainly negatively affected by the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.
The original estimate for November called for an addition of 171,000 jobs. That the final figure was much higher could indicate that the U.S. economy is in better shape than many feared. Retail jobs grew by 53,000 in November and have risen by 140,000 over the past three months.
U.S. job growth has averaged 151,000 a month since the beginning of the year, and November’s figure is close enough to be a positive signal. What remains to be seen is the impact of the looming fiscal cliff on December’s figures, and whether the good showing in November will be carried forward.