US gains a robust 266,000 jobs; unemployment falls to 3.5%

The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5% from 3.6% in October, matching a half-century low, the Labor Department reported Friday. And wages rose a solid 3.1% in November compared with a year earlier.

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:13 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring in the United States jumped last month to its highest level since January as U.S. employers shrugged off trade conflicts and a global slowdown and added 266,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5% from 3.6% in October, matching a half-century low, the Labor Department reported Friday. And wages rose a solid 3.1% in November compared with a year earlier.

Investors cheered the report, sending the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 300 points in late-morning trading.

November’s healthy job gain runs against a widespread view that many employers are either delaying hiring until a breakthrough in the U.S.-China trade war is reached or are struggling to find workers with unemployment so low. The pace of hiring points to the resilience of the job market and economy more than a decade into the U.S. economic expansion — the longest on record.

The steady job growth has helped reassure consumers that the economy is expanding and that their jobs and incomes remain secure. Consumer spending has become an even more important driver of growth as the Trump administration’s trade conflicts have reduced exports and led many businesses to cut spending.

“Today’s jobs report, more than any other report in recent months, squashed any lingering concerns about an imminent recession in the U.S. economy,” said Gad Levanon, an economist at the Conference Board, a business research group. “Consumers are entering the holiday season with both the ability and the willingness to spend.”

The healthy data suggested that the Federal Reserve, which meets next week, is unlikely to cut its benchmark short-term interest rate anytime soon. The Fed has cut rates three times this year to help nurture the economy.

At the same time, Chairman Jerome Powell has said the Fed is not inclined to raise rates in response to ultra-low unemployment until inflation has risen consistently, which has yet to happen. The perception that any rate hikes are a long way off has helped underpin the stock market’s gains.

Monthly job growth has picked up since summer: It has averaged 205,000 over the past three months, up from just 135,000 in July.

Renewed concerns that trade will continue to hamper the U.S. economy drove stock prices lower earlier this week, after President Donald Trump had said he was willing to wait until after the 2020 elections to strike a preliminary trade agreement with China. With the two sides still haggling, the administration is set to impose 15% tariffs on an additional $160 billion of Chinese imports beginning Dec. 15.

Both sides have since suggested that the negotiations are making progress, but there is still no sign of a resolution.

The return of striking General Motors autoworkers added roughly 40,000 jobs in November, a one-time bounce-back that followed a similar decline in October, when the GM strikers weren’t counted as employed. Excluding the strikers, manufacturing jobs showed a small gain.

In Friday’s hiring data, besides reporting the healthy November gain, the government revised up its estimate of job growth for September and October by a combined 41,000.

Outsize hiring for the holiday shopping season did not appear to be a major driver of last month’s job growth. Retailers added just 2,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. And transportation and warehousing firms gained fewer than 16,000. Both figures are below last year’s totals. The shopping season is shorter this year because Thanksgiving occurred later than in recent years, which might be delaying some temporary hiring.

Employers have been adding jobs at a solid enough pace to absorb new job seekers and to potentially lower the unemployment rate, though the pace of job growth is still down from last year’s rate.

With tariffs hobbling manufacturing, the job market this year has underscored a bifurcation in the economy: Service industries — finance, engineering, health care and the like — have been hiring at a solid pace, while manufacturers, miners and builders have been posting weak numbers.

Most analysts say they remain hopeful about the economy and the job market. The economy grew at a 2.1% annual rate in the July-September quarter, and the annual pace is thought to be slowing to roughly 1.5% to 2% in the final three months of the year — sluggish but far from recessionary.

Consumer confidence has slipped in recent months but remains at a decent level, helping boost sales of expensive purchases, such as autos and appliances.

With inflation surprisingly low, the Federal Reserve has cut its benchmark short-term interest rate three times this year. Those rate cuts have helped support the housing market. Sales of existing homes have risen nearly 5% in the past year. Sales of new homes have soared by one-third.

Terre Haute
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 92°
Robinson
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 94°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
87° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 88°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
83° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 85°
Casey
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 92°
Brazil
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 92°
Marshall
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 92°
Partly cloudy to mostly clear. A few pop-up showers expected
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 201727

Reported Deaths: 7905
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1137884943
Lake13047450
DuPage12592523
Kane10027305
Will9576347
St. Clair4215162
Winnebago3814134
McHenry3308114
Madison285579
Kankakee182969
Rock Island179638
Peoria175837
Champaign172919
Kendall143123
Unassigned1382209
Sangamon134533
DeKalb96031
LaSalle87828
Boone77023
Jackson74320
McLean70315
Macon70223
Tazewell6129
Adams5817
Coles54621
Randolph4957
Williamson4777
Clinton43317
Ogle4215
Whiteside36817
Grundy3535
Union33723
Stephenson3366
Monroe33413
Knox3311
Jefferson31720
Morgan2916
Iroquois27412
Henry2661
Vermilion2572
Bureau2473
Cass24511
Macoupin2093
Franklin2051
Warren1960
Perry1933
Effingham1921
Lee1861
Logan1791
Montgomery1757
Woodford1723
Marion1680
McDonough14715
Christian1444
Jersey1412
Jo Daviess1361
Livingston1343
Saline1342
Douglas1333
Pulaski1011
Moultrie1000
Shelby922
Clark882
Mercer774
White750
Fayette733
Hancock721
Johnson710
Washington691
Bond683
Carroll684
Wayne672
Greene660
Piatt650
Jasper617
Cumberland603
Mason580
Menard580
Ford522
Lawrence520
Gallatin512
Wabash440
Massac430
Alexander370
Fulton370
De Witt340
Marshall330
Clay310
Crawford310
Hamilton310
Edgar300
Pike300
Scott280
Edwards240
Richland240
Schuyler190
Hardin180
Brown150
Henderson150
Putnam130
Calhoun120
Pope110
Stark70
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 77565

Reported Deaths: 3105
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16304733
Lake7840283
Elkhart499287
Allen4103164
St. Joseph368183
Hamilton2941104
Vanderburgh208215
Hendricks1972109
Cass18099
Johnson1800119
Porter139139
Clark133350
Tippecanoe126312
Madison104866
LaPorte95730
Howard93865
Kosciusko87212
Bartholomew84447
Floyd83750
Marshall80123
Monroe77732
Delaware76852
Vigo75213
Dubois71812
Noble70829
Boone70446
Hancock69439
Jackson6065
Warrick60030
Shelby57228
LaGrange56910
Grant53230
Dearborn52228
Morgan49235
Henry46020
Clinton4564
Wayne40210
White38011
Montgomery36321
Lawrence35827
Harrison35524
Decatur34732
Putnam3288
Daviess28420
Miami2792
Scott27810
Jasper2592
Greene25634
Franklin24915
Gibson2434
DeKalb2424
Jennings23212
Ripley2208
Steuben2173
Fayette2057
Carroll2033
Perry18813
Posey1810
Starke1817
Orange17924
Wabash1795
Wells1782
Fulton1742
Jefferson1722
Knox1681
Whitley1606
Tipton15416
Sullivan1521
Washington1481
Clay1415
Spencer1393
Randolph1325
Huntington1303
Newton12110
Adams1202
Owen1101
Jay940
Rush914
Pulaski841
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Pike660
Ohio656
Benton630
Vermillion610
Parke591
Switzerland560
Martin500
Crawford480
Union410
Warren251
Unassigned0207