Jobs report shows 210,000 jobs created as hiring slowed in November

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Hiring slowed sharply in November despite falling COVID-19 cases, easing childcare constraints and expiring unemployment benefits, developments that appeared to be pulling more Americans back into the labor market. job.

The economy has created 210,000 jobs and the unemployment rate, which is calculated from another survey, fell from 4.6% to 4.2%, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Economists had estimated that 545,000 jobs had been created last month, according to a Bloomberg poll.

The disappointing job gain does not reflect last week’s discovery of the omicron variant of COVID in South Africa, which occurred too late in the month to affect the employment survey.

The United States has recovered 18.4 million, or 82%, of the 22.4 million jobs lost at the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020. That leaves the country about 4 million jobs below its level. ‘before the crisis.

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In an interview, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh focused on the bigger picture.

“Unemployment has fallen by 2 percentage points since President Biden took office” and nearly 6 million jobs have been created during this period.

“We are looking at the biggest drop in year-over-year unemployment on record,” Biden told reporters. “America is back to work and the job recovery is very strong.”

Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants and bars, have been hit hardest by the pandemic and have generated solid payroll gains for many months, but added just 23,000 last month .

And retail has cut 20,000 jobs after seasonal adjustments that reflect the outsized gains the industry typically sees in November amid vacation hires.

The other sectors recorded good progress. Professional and business services added 90,000 jobs; transport and storage, 50,000; and construction and manufacturing each added 31,000.

There were other positive signs in the report. Payroll gains for September and October were revised upwards by 82,000 in total and by 462,000 on average for the two months. Large upward revisions to employment totals this year indicate that the disappointing November figure could be shifted up, according to economist Gus Faucher of the PNC Financial Services Group.

And the workforce – made up of Americans working or looking for work – grew by nearly 600,000, underscoring that many people on the sidelines are returning to an improving labor market that offers wages. higher. The share of people over 16 participating in the labor force increased from 61.6% to 61.8%.

This could help alleviate severe labor shortages.

Employer demand for workers has been strong for months, but labor shortages have kept job gains at solid levels but below blockbusters. In September, the delta variant of COVID prevented many Americans from fully reopening and many schools, forcing parents to care for children who learn remotely and delay their return to work or job searches.

But 81% of Americans over 12 are now fully immunized, and some children between the ages of 5 and 11 have also received their first vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Daily new cases of COVID have increased from around 95,000 to 82,000 in the past 10 days and from 150,000 since early September. Schools, meanwhile, have largely reopened.

And three months have now passed since improved unemployment benefits from the federal government expired for an estimated 11 million people. As a result, while the share of Americans working or looking for work did not increase as expected in September and October, some economists say the solid labor gain in November could foreshadow further advances. In the coming months.

“It looks lower than expectations on the surface, but all in all it’s a pretty solid report,” said Brian Coulton, chief economist at Fitch Ratings.

Economist Andrew Hunter of Capital Economics said the mixed report would not prevent the Federal Reserve from accelerating the reduction of its bond buying stimulus this month in an attempt to pave the way for hikes interest rates earlier next year to curb a spike in inflation.

A few wild cards, however, could cloud the job market, including the omicron variant of COVID.

And President Biden’s mandate to vaccinate or test employees for companies with more than 100 employees will take effect Jan.4, possibly leading some workers to resign, Hunter said.

Capital Economics economist Lydia Boussour said she expects the U.S. payroll to return to pre-COVID levels by the second half of next year.

But, she adds, “the way forward may turn out to be more difficult than expected.”

Jane Oates, president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit that raises awareness of the challenges facing American workers and a former Labor official overseeing training, says she is concerned that the share of workers in their prime ( 25-54 years) working or looking for a job is still just 81.8%, up from 82.9% before the pandemic. The share, however, edged up from 81.6% since September.

There are signs that hiring may have slowed in November. Homebase, which provides payroll software to small businesses, said the number of employees working in companies fell 2.7% last month.

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Contribution: Courtney Subramanian and Maureen Groppe

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