Prior to the release of the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, economists polled by Reuters forecasted the addition of 180,000 jobs to non-farm payrolls. The actual tally came in at 266,000 jobs added. Unemployment declined to 3.5%, matching the lowest rate since 1969.
“This is a blowout number and the U.S. economy continues to be all about the jobs,” said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets for Citizens Bank, per CNBC. “The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low and wages are increasing. Business owners may be getting more cautious due to trade and political uncertainty and growth may be slow, but consumers keep spending and the punch bowl still seems full.”
Where Jobs Are Growing
“Parts of the manufacturing sector, which slipped into a recession this year, appeared to show signs of stabilizing in November,” wrote Gina Heeb at Markets Insider. “Factories added 54,000 jobs, with the temporary return of GM workers most likely behind the vast majority of those. Still, it isn’t clear how long the upswing might last as tariffs raise costs for employers and cast a thick cloud of uncertainty onto hiring plans.”
Otherwise, gains were distributed across several industries, including:
- Health care (+45,000 jobs)
- Leisure/hospitality (+45,000 jobs)
- Professional/technical services (+31,000 jobs)
- Transportation/warehousing (+16,000 jobs)
- Financial activities (+13,000 jobs)
Mining shed 7,000 jobs last month, while retail trade was essentially flat at 2,000 jobs added. Other industries were little changed for November, including wholesale trade, construction, information and government.
Wage Growth and the Buying Power of Workers’ Pay
Last month, average hourly wages for private-sector workers rose 7 cents to $28.29. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 3.1%, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, Elise Gould at The Economic Policy Institute noted that wage growth is “slower than expected in an economy that has had historically low unemployment.”
And the buying power of workers’ pay has declined in recent years. The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for employed U.S. workers, showed 2.6% year-over-year wage growth for Q3 2019. But real wages have declined 9.6% since 2006.
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