The U.S. jobless rate remained unchanged in November at 5% for the second straight month, but a hearty 211,000 jobs were added to employer payrolls across the nation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday (Dec. 4).
Labor Department officials said job gains occurred in construction, professional and technical services, and health care, while mining and information lost ground for the month.
“Today’s employment report is another strong indication of the steady growth in our economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Our businesses have added 13.7 million jobs over 69 straight months, and in the last three years, we have seen the strongest job creation since 2000. Hourly earnings are also up 2.3% over the last 12 months, supporting income growth for the nation’s households.”
INTEREST RATE MOVE NOW LIKELY
The upbeat labor report follows Thursday’s testimony by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to Congress where she said the U.S economy has “recovered substantially since the Great Recession.” The nation’s chief economist said the U.S. unemployment rate, which peaked at 10% in October 2009, declined to 5% in October of this year.
“At that level, the unemployment rate is near the median of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) participants’ most recent estimates of its longer-run normal level,” Yellen testified. “The economy has created about 13 million jobs since the low point for employment in early 2010, and total nonfarm payrolls are now almost 4-1/2 million higher than just prior to the recession.”
Although Yellen said the future course of the nation’s economy is uncertain, she told congressional officials that holding the zero interest policy does not reflect the improved job market.
“In particular, recent monetary policy decisions have reflected our recognition that, with the federal funds rate near zero, we can respond more readily to upside surprises to inflation, economic growth, and employment than to downside shocks,” Yellen said. “This asymmetry suggests that it is appropriate to be more cautious in raising our target for the federal funds rate than would be the case if short-term nominal interest rates were appreciably above zero.”
CONSTRUCTION JOB NUMBERS RISE
Overall, the number of unemployed persons in the U.S. job market, at 7.9 million, was essentially unchanged, BLS figures show. Over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons are down by 0.8 percentage point and 1.1 million, respectively.
Employment in construction rose by 46,000 in November, with much of the increase occurring in residential specialty trade contractors (+26,000). Professional and technical services added 28,000 jobs, while health care employment jumped by 24,000 over the month, following a large gain in October (+51,000).
Job losses in mining continue to mount in November (-11,000), with most of the decline concentrated in support activities for the oil and gas sector. Information lost 12,000 jobs over the month as employment in motion pictures and sound recording decreased by 13,000.
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services will release the state’s November employment report on Dec. 18. Arkansas will report its final job report of 2015. Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point, from 5.2% in September to 5.1% in October.