US job growth slowed in November and analysts theorize the rate is parallel to that of the slowing economic growth. While nonfarm payrolls did, in fact, increase last month, the November jobs report did not perform as well as the Dow Jones had expected—198,000—which was already downgraded from the earlier 237,000 estimates. The good news, however, is that the unemployment rate held strong at 3.7 percent, which is still the lowest since 1969, according to the US Labor Department.
Average hourly earnings are also up—about 3 percent up from a year ago—and this is a very closely watched marker for inflation pressures. At the same time, monthly earnings rose only 0.2 percent, which is just shy of the estimated 0.3 percent. And the average workweek also fell, a little, by 0.1 hours: bringing the average workweek to 34.4 hours.
On the other hand, stock futures turned around a little, propping up after last week’s weaker report. The boost seems to suggest more confidence from Wall Street that the Federal Reserve will, in fact, be a little less aggressive on rate hikes next year.
To truly determine the financial health of the country, though, we have to look at other factors, too. For one, there is a metric which monitors discouraged workers and those who have part-time jobs for specific—typically economic—reasons. This is actually sometimes called the “real unemployment rate;” and this rate rose from 7.4 percent to 7.6 percent in the month of November.
The market seems to favor service-related industries right now as this sector added 132,000 jobs. Goods produced also showed an uptick of 29,000, but that is its lowest marker since March. Finally, Government jobs fell 6,000 jobs.
Health care, professional services, and businesses services are all bright spots right now, growing by 32,000 workers, each. In addition, manufacturing jobs are up by 27,000 and transportation and warehousing contracts also jumped about 25,000.
Of course, we are right in the middle of the US holiday season, so we can expect to see retail jobs jump, but the numbers may not be what you expect. While retail jobs have climbed by 18,000, clothing stores show a net decline of 14,000. Electronics and appliance stores are surprisingly down—by 11,000—a fate which can also be said of sporting goods, hobby stores, and bookstores.