Executive Briefings

U.S. Jobless Rate at 9-Year Low, but Factory Payrolls Fall

U.S. hiring picked up in November, while the unemployment rate tumbled to a nine-year low on a drop in the number of people in the workforce and wages unexpectedly declined, providing a mixed picture of the labor market.

The 178,000 gain followed a 142,000 rise in October that was less than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 180,000 advance. The jobless rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 4.6 percent as labor participation dropped for a second month.

A steady job market signals employers were willing to keep hiring in the days before and after the Nov. 8 presidential election. At the same time, while the Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise borrowing costs this month, sustained weakness in wages or participation would weigh on the economic outlook.

“The labor market is still healthy, and perhaps operating at or beyond capacity,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “Wages can be volatile month to month. I’d tend to put a little more weight on the unemployment rate when thinking about future developments and wage inflation.”

Revisions to prior reports subtracted a total of 2,000 jobs from payrolls in the previous two months. November payroll estimates ranged from gains of 140,000 to 250,000. October was initially reported as a 161,000 increase.

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The 178,000 gain followed a 142,000 rise in October that was less than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 180,000 advance. The jobless rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 4.6 percent as labor participation dropped for a second month.

A steady job market signals employers were willing to keep hiring in the days before and after the Nov. 8 presidential election. At the same time, while the Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise borrowing costs this month, sustained weakness in wages or participation would weigh on the economic outlook.

“The labor market is still healthy, and perhaps operating at or beyond capacity,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “Wages can be volatile month to month. I’d tend to put a little more weight on the unemployment rate when thinking about future developments and wage inflation.”

Revisions to prior reports subtracted a total of 2,000 jobs from payrolls in the previous two months. November payroll estimates ranged from gains of 140,000 to 250,000. October was initially reported as a 161,000 increase.

Read Full Article