Unemployment and Payrolls Remain Strong in November

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The U.S. Department of Labor showed yet another strong payrolls and unemployment report. The official unemployment rate for November is at a 17-year low, and payrolls surprised higher with a gain of more than 200,000 in the month.

November’s nonfarm payrolls rose by 228,000 in November on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%.

Dow Jones had projected 195,000 in nonfarm payrolls in November and had projected a 4.1% unemployment rate.

The net hiring in government jobs was 7,000 in November. Another key measure that plays into unemployment is the labor force participation rate. This was a rate of 62.7% last month. The employment-population ratio was flat at 60.1%.

The number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.6 million. Also, the number of long-term unemployed, which is those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, was essentially unchanged at 1.6 million. Long-term unemployed persons accounted for 23.8% of the unemployed.

Where the biggest strength was seen by employers adding jobs was in construction, manufacturing, retail and health care. Leisure and hospitality even continued its recovery after having been impacted by hurricanes.

Average hourly earnings rose by $0.05 to $26.55 per hour in November from October, but that small gain is actually 2.5% higher than a year ago.

All in all this is a strong report, but not so strong that it will make any big waves next week when the Federal Reserve meets to decide on its decision to raise interest rates. It is broadly expected that this will bring a hike, and it likely will be the last rate hike under Fed Chair Yellen.

Other key data were shown as follows:

  • The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was 4.8 million, essentially unchanged from October but down by 858,000 over the year.
  • There were 1.5 million persons considered to be marginally attached to the labor force, a drop of 451,000 from a year earlier.
  • Among the marginally attached, there were 469,000 discouraged workers in November, down by 122,000 from a year earlier.
  • The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
  • The average workweek was up so little that is did not move the needle much, with a six-minute gain in November to 34.5 hours.