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U.S. Unemployment Down, Job Growth Unsurprising

Analysts expected an uptick in job growth, cough but the latest official report of U.S. employment statistics hit a flat note. Hiring for seasonal jobs, on the other hand, means fewer people on the sidelines.

Construction guys pointing at stuffDespite private analysts estimating an spike in employment for November of around 240,000 new jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' official report this morning came in at 178,000 (about 25 percent less than anticipated).


The overall unemployment rate, however, dipped to 4.6 percent. According to the Wall Street Journal, one must look all the way back to 2007 — prior to the onset of the housing crash and the ensuing “Great Recession” — to find an overall rate so low.


Alas, wage growth still remains mostly flat, with average weekly earnings up only 2 percent (or thereabouts) over the preceding 12 months. With inflation running at about 1.5 percent, that means wages are just barely keeping pace and that real earnings aren’t growing much at all.


('Tis the season to be jolly.)


The winners for November included professional and business services, which added 63,000 jobs (up by 571,000 for all of 2016). Health care, a constant upward mover of late, was up by 28,000 for the month (and 407,000 for the year so far).


Construction jobs (often a sign of economic growth) are also up for the third straight month, by 19,000 jobs for November (and 59.000 jobs since September — primarily for residential construction work). Most of the other major sectors stayed fairly flat.


The information sector shows overall unemployment slightly up compared to a year ago: 115,000 out of work in November 2016 versus 111,000 out of work for November 2015. The lower number, however, represented a higher unemployment rate (4.3 percent vs. 4.2 percent). Thus, sector population was 2.58 million a year ago, and 2.74 million for November 2016.