US adds 266,000 jobs in November
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Washington | The added 266,000 jobs in November as the jobless rate decreased to 3.5 per cent, reflecting a surge of strength in the labour market that has muscled through recession fears that flared over the summer.

The data, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beat expectations. Analysts had forecast roughly 180,000 new jobs for the month. The 3.5 per cent unemployment rate is back at a 50-year low.

via apinews.org

Manufacturing appears to have regained its footing a bit after several months of extreme pressure. Data showed that within manufacturing, jobs in motor vehicles and parts was up by 41,000 in November. Jason South

The jobs data offers the latest snapshot into an economy that appears to have lost some steam from 2018 but continues to grow. Heading into Donald Trump’s fourth year in office, the labour market remains one of the economy’s biggest engines, and Trump regularly touts the low unemployment rate as one of his top achievements.

“What a way to end the year,” said Julia Pollak, an economist at Zip Recruiter, an online employment marketplace. “The overwhelming takeaway from the whole year, and indeed the past nine years, is that job growth has been remarkably stable and steady.”

Still, ongoing uncertainty around Trump’s trade war has left businesses confused about how to shield themselves from a future downturn, and many have pulled back investments in recent months.

The is in the midst of trying to secure a partial trade pact with China as well as revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement, and many executives are eyeing developments in those talks before they decide how to proceed.


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But this doesn’t appear to have slowed hiring much in recent months. The US economy added an average of 205,000 jobs per month from September through November, a very healthy clip.

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Pollak said it was remarkable that so much uncertainty wasn’t depressing job growth. And while it’s difficult to predict whether the numbers would have come in higher without Trump’s trade war, she said the impact seems to have been “relatively muted”.

In the near-term, it’s easier for employers to invest in hiring workers than it may be to, say, build a new factory during a protracted trade war, said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com.

“If you’re going to build a structure, that’s a substantial commitment,” Hamrick said. “The good news for employers, and the bad news for workers, is that most employees have virtually no job security, so that does provide employers a bit more flexibility.”

Markets rejoiced at the report, with the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 350 points in early afternoon on Friday in New York. Both the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up slightly more than 1 per cent.

November’s tally was boosted by thousands of General Motors workers who returned to their jobs in late October after a lengthy strike. Roughly 54,000 new manufacturing jobs were added in November, BLS said, a number that included the GM workers returning.

Manufacturing appears to have regained its footing a bit after several months of extreme pressure. Data showed that within manufacturing, jobs in motor vehicles and parts was up by 41,000 in November.

Overall, the sector has softened from the 264,000 manufacturing jobs added in 2018. But it is stronger than the 7000 jobs lost in 2016, which came during an economic slowdown that helped propel Trump to election.

Pollak said this year’s figures suggest the country has largely managed to avoid the global manufacturing slowdown, even despite trade tensions.

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The retail trade stayed about unchanged, with employment rising in general merchandise stores and car vehicle and parts dealers. But clothing stores shed about 18,000 jobs.

Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 3.1 per cent, just slightly up from an increase of 3 per cent reported last month.

Health care added 45,000 jobs, including in ambulatory health-care services and in hospitals. The health-care sector has added 414,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

Jobs in leisure and hospitality continued their upward trend. The industry has gained 219,000 jobs over the past four months. But the mining sector shed 7000 jobs last month, and mining jobs are down by 19,000 since a recent peak in May.

The labour market has remained one of the brightest spots in the economy. Combined with the high stock market, it has contributed to high levels of consumer spending and a relatively rosy consumer sentiment.

“The basic theme here, is working,” said Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, on CNBC Friday morning. “ is working. And, by the way, the middle-class workers are working.”

Many employers are still struggling to find qualified workers to fill jobs, but other companies have had to cut jobs because of a recent pullback in manufacturing demand.

The labour market’s health could have big implications for the 2020 elections.

Concerns about a looming recession have waned, but the economy has still shown signs of cooling. Economists have warned that the mounting toll of Trump’s protracted trade war has strained global trade growth and slowed the creation of American jobs.

Federal Reserve Board Jerome Powell has said Trump’s tariffs have wrought so much uncertainty that companies are delaying investments and slowing the economy.

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But major parts of the economy continue to show resilience, buoyed in part by consumer spending and the low unemployment rate.

Uncertainty remains an issue. Just this week, Trump said he could wait to strike a deal with China until after the 2020 election, sending stocks plunging.

The volatility followed Trump’s announcement he was reimposing tariffs on steel and aluminium coming from Brazil and Argentina, though the timeline for this action is uncertain.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at accounting firm Grant Thornton, projected some drag on employment because of the loss of 12,000 temporary workers who wrapped up their jobs for the 2020 Census.

Holiday hires were expected to stay muted so long as retail stores continued closing their doors. Compounding store closures is a shift among retailers to focus on their websites and distribution centres to meet customer demand, rather than stocking physical stores with employees, Pollak said.

The BLS also revised its job growth figures for October from 128,000 to 156,000. The jobless rate for that month rose slightly from the month before to 3.6 per cent. Those numbers were affected by the GM strike, in which workers shut down production for six weeks at the auto maker. The strike spurred layoffs from Canada to Mexico in related industries and caused a rise in unemployment claims in states like Michigan.

“Looking at the high number of jobs that were added in November, you might forget that the story for most of this year was that the economy was slowing down,” Indeed Hiring Lab research director Nick Bunker wrote in an analysis of the data Friday. “The slowdown did happen, but we can move into 2020 with a bit more optimism.”

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