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
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 16°
Robinson
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 17°
Indianapolis
Overcast
29° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 17°
Rockville
Overcast
26° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 15°
Casey
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 12°
Brazil
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 16°
Marshall
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 16°
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 720114

Reported Deaths: 12882
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook3042206595
DuPage45087788
Will38684563
Lake37299631
Kane31767467
Winnebago18948262
Madison14379255
McHenry14269156
St. Clair13410259
Champaign1079858
Sangamon1015799
Peoria9147133
Kankakee8636103
Rock Island8612135
McLean848954
Tazewell6835104
Macon6517132
Kendall626947
LaSalle6108134
DeKalb499047
Adams473548
Vermilion391551
Boone390733
Whiteside3743115
Williamson361083
Clinton330861
Coles329859
Ogle285037
Knox280766
Grundy277618
Effingham277021
Henry270015
Jackson268536
Marion248551
Stephenson246635
Randolph226826
Livingston224527
Macoupin223218
Morgan220936
Bureau211643
Monroe207545
Franklin204825
Lee201034
Christian189443
Jefferson187859
Woodford175827
Fayette170931
Logan170113
Iroquois169326
McDonough158241
Fulton146012
Shelby137426
Douglas135416
Jersey127224
Union118228
Montgomery115519
Crawford112213
Saline111625
Perry110223
Warren109020
Jo Daviess107617
Carroll107024
Lawrence107011
Bond104810
Pike101427
Cass96423
Hancock95612
Wayne90833
Moultrie89810
Clay84020
Greene82831
Edgar80815
Clark79820
Piatt7835
Richland78019
Ford75222
Mercer74510
Mason72120
Johnson7136
Washington7002
Jasper64411
Cumberland61416
White6148
De Witt61317
Massac5993
Wabash5708
Menard4661
Pulaski4132
Marshall4066
Hamilton3873
Brown3224
Henderson2891
Schuyler2711
Stark2683
Alexander2562
Calhoun2470
Putnam2430
Scott2310
Edwards2263
Gallatin1913
Unassigned1850
Hardin1551
Pope1011
Out of IL100

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 333312

Reported Deaths: 5685
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion45371865
Lake28722469
Allen19325304
Elkhart17945235
St. Joseph17599237
Hamilton14061171
Vanderburgh10280127
Tippecanoe920230
Porter873389
Johnson6973170
Hendricks6674158
Vigo637392
Monroe560850
Madison5410122
Clark540478
Delaware5184103
LaPorte492897
Kosciusko480741
Howard379478
Bartholomew347365
Warrick343073
Wayne340985
Floyd334978
Marshall317946
Cass307931
Grant295450
Hancock286957
Noble269347
Henry262837
Boone261955
Dubois249632
Dearborn238231
Jackson235534
Morgan228743
Gibson201229
Shelby199859
Knox196621
DeKalb190234
Clinton189222
Lawrence187949
Wabash181122
Miami176817
Adams176223
Daviess165845
Fayette157634
Steuben156415
Jasper155913
Montgomery154629
Harrison154124
Ripley151521
LaGrange150631
Whitley146815
Huntington140210
Decatur137144
Putnam134828
White134823
Wells134630
Clay132724
Randolph132622
Jefferson131316
Posey127718
Scott118921
Greene109053
Sullivan105016
Jay104414
Jennings97814
Starke96624
Spencer9078
Fulton88619
Perry86421
Fountain8608
Washington8387
Franklin75727
Carroll73713
Orange71828
Vermillion6867
Owen6598
Tipton62727
Parke6226
Rush5918
Newton58812
Blackford57312
Pike54020
Pulaski44215
Benton3843
Martin3826
Brown3705
Crawford3221
Union2862
Switzerland2725
Warren2653
Ohio2437
Unassigned0267