U.S. Adds 266,000 Jobs in November, Jobless Rate Falls to 3.5%
U.S. job gains roared back in November as unemployment matched a fresh half-century low and wages topped estimates, giving the Federal Reserve more reason to hold interest rates steady after three straight cuts.
Payrolls jumped 266,000, the most since January, after an upwardly revised 128,000 advance the prior month, according to a Labor Department report Friday that topped all estimates in a Bloomberg survey calling for 180,000 jobs. It was the first full month that General Motors Co. workers returned to work after a 40-day strike, adding 41,300 to automaker payrolls following a similar drop the prior month.
The jobless rate dipped to 3.5 per cent, matching the lowest since 1969. Average hourly earnings climbed 3.1 per cent from a year earlier, exceeding projections, and the prior month was revised higher. Private employment jumped by 254,000.
The data back the Fed’s view that the labour market remains strong, supporting consumers and continued economic growth. That may give the central bank more room to keep interest rates on hold at their meeting next week amid the uncertainty of President Donald Trump’s prolonged trade talks with China. Wage gains should also support holiday shopping and ease concerns about a slowdown.
Revisions added 41,000 jobs for the prior two months, bringing the three-month average to a 10-month high of 205,000.
The report adds to recent data pointing to an economy holding up amid headwinds. Jobless claims remain near a half-century low, service-sector activity is expanding and consumer sentiment is within reach of the best levels of the expansion.
Manufacturers rebounded, adding 54,000 jobs after a 43,000 drop the prior month, mostly reflecting GM workers returning to work. Despite the boost, factories have faltered amid weak global demand and U.S.-China trade tensions that have curbed business expansion plans.
Job gains were broad-based across industries, led by a 206,000 gain for private service providers that was the best since January.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and other policy makers have said the labour market remains strong enough to maintain a stable economy. That’s contributed to expectations the central bank will hold rates through the end of 2021.
The participation rate, or share of working-age people in the labour force, fell to 63.2 per cent after 63.3 per cent the prior month.
The U-6, or underemployment rate, fell to 6.9 per cent from seven per cent; some analysts see this as a more accurate reflection of the true labour market as it includes part-time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and those who aren’t actively looking.