Jobs report crushes expectations as hurricane impact fades

source
REUTERS/ John Sommers II

  • The US economy added 228,000 nonfarm payrolls in November, more than economists were expecting.
  • The unemployment rate held at a 17-year low of 4.1%.
  • But wage growth was slow and weaker than expected, suggesting that many Americans are still on the sidelines of the full-time job market.
  • Retail hiring was strong ahead of the busy holiday season. The manufacturing unemployment rate fell to a record low.

The US economy added 228,000 nonfarm payrolls in November, more than economists had forecast, a report on Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed.

The unemployment rate remained near a 17-year low of 4.1%.

Overall, the report demonstrated that job creation remained strong in the US even after deadly hurricanes slammed into the Southeast this fall and temporarily weakened hiring. Economists had forecast that nonfarm payrolls increased by 195,000 on net with the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1%, according to Bloomberg.

Wage growth was weaker than expected. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% from October and increased by 2.5% compared with November 2016. Some structural forces, including changes in the labor-force makeup between high-income and low-income earners and lower labor-market turnover, are likely keeping wage growth slow.

But weak wage growth is also an indication that many Americans either are still not looking for jobs or are wanting to work full time but can find only part-time jobs. The labor-force participation rate held at 62.7% from October.

The manufacturing sector added 31,000 jobs, while its unemployment rate fell to a record-low 2.6%. This shows an extension of its recovery this year after a slump in 2016 that was partly caused by the stronger dollar, which made US products more expensive for other countries.

Retail also had a strong month ahead of the busy holiday-shopping season, adding 18,700 jobs even as thousands of brick-and-mortar stores are being closed.

Restaurants and bars, which bore the brunt of the hurricane impact, added 18,900 jobs last month.