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U.S. Economy Added 266,000 Jobs in November, Beating Expectations by a Wide Margin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. economy generated 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell 10 basis points to 3.5 percent, matching a 50-year low, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported this morning. The latest figures breezed past expectations. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a gain of 187,000 new jobs in November and a 3.6 percent unemployment rate.

What’s more, the change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised upward by 13,000, and the change for October was revised upward by 28,000. With these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 41,000 more than previously reported.  The healthy job creation numbers show the resiliency of the U.S. economy in the face of a global slowdown, according to economists.

Among the employment highlights for November:

  • Manufacturing employment rose by 54,000, following a decline of 43,000 in the prior month. Within manufacturing, employment in motor vehicles and parts was up by 41,000 in November, reflecting the return of workers who were on strike in October.
  • The healthcare sector added 45,000 jobs, including gains in ambulatory health care services (+34,000) as well as hospitals (+10,000). Employers in healthcare have added 414,000 jobs over the last 12 months.
  • Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up (+45,000) in November. The industry has added 219,000 jobs over the last four months.
  • Employment in professional and technical services, which drives demand for office space, increased by 31,000 in November and by 278,000 over the last 12 months.
  • It was a mixed bag for the retail trade sector, which posted a net gain of 2,000 jobs for the month. While job gains occurred in general merchandise (+22,000) as well as motor vehicle and parts dealers (+8,000), clothing and clothing accessories stores lost jobs (-18,000).

Of the 266,000 jobs created in November, 254,000, or 95.5 percent, were in the private sector compared with 12,000 in the government sector.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents to $28.29 in November, according to the BLS. Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.1 percent.

— Matt Valley

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