November Job Gains Are the Strongest Since 2012

November saw the most substantial pace of hiring in nearly three years as businesses added 321,000 jobs to their payrolls last month. That’s the most robust monthly number since January 2012.

Pace of job growth since 2008BloombergPace of job growth since 2008

Alhough the unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 5.8 percent, the jobs report is fantastic overall. Revisions to the previous two months added an additional 44,000 jobs. Wage growth was strong across most industries, helping boost hourly earnings 2.1 percent over the past 12 months. That’s still not very good, but with inflation running below 2 percent, workers are starting to make some headway and increase their actual take-home pay.

So far this year, job growth has averaged 231,000 a month, adding a total of 2.6 million news jobs to the economy. That’s more than any year since 1999, back when the economy was growing at 4.7 percent and unemployment was around 4.2 percent. There are still 9 million people who are unemployed in the U.S. That’s down from 15 million in 2009 and still historically high. The decline has been impressive nonetheless. Just as a reminder of how damaging the financial crash was, it’s worth remembering that in November 2008, the economy lost 533,000 jobs.

There are still 9 million people who are unemployedBloombergThere are still 9 million people who are unemployed

The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.8 percent, which is still close to historic lows. Although it’s hard to glean good news from what’s been a steady slide in the share of the population participating in the work force, the fall over the past year appears to have flattened out, with the rate remaining essentially unchanged since April.

If people start making their way back into the workforce, the unemployment rate could tick up a bit, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing. At least part of the decline over the past three years has been attributed to people falling out of the labor force. Those who give up looking for work aren’t counted as unemployed. The unemployment rate among adult men rose in November.

Job growth was spread out across sectors and demographics. One sign of that, the diffusion index, which measures the breadth of job gains, rose to its highest reading since January 1998, an indication that the economy is healing in a more equilateral way rather than just in some pockets.

Looking through the growth in payrolls across industries, the retail sector, not surprisingly, saw some of the strongest growth, with 50,000 new jobs added as stores staff up for the holidays. Previous Novembers have seen outsize gains in temporary jobs, such as couriers and messengers, but those jobs were up only 5,000 last month. Last year, those jobs increased more than 20,000.

In one sign that the housing sector is coming back, and that people are starting to spend money on home improvement, specialty trade contractor jobs rose by 20,000

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5 December 2014 | 4:02 pm – Source: businessweek.com

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