Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
- The Employment Situation
Overall, November’s report was positive. Importantly, nonfarm payrolls rose by 120,000 in November (consistent with expectations), following upward revisions to the previous two months that added an additional 72,000 jobs to earlier estimates. Government payrolls continued to shrink (falling 20,000 in November), partially masking some of the strength from private payrolls (which rose 140,000). Importantly, the average gain in private payrolls over the last three months (at 160,000) is roughly on par with the longer (12-month) trend in the series of 157,000. Gains were seen across most broad categories in November. Construction was the only category with a significant decrease (down 12,000), while manufacturing employment, as hinted at by yesterday’s ISM survey, was roughly flat during the month. Retail trade employment posted the most robust gain, rising 50,000, its largest gain since April (though it is not clear whether the estimate was affected by a disproportionately large hiring of seasonal workers). Perhaps the most surprising number from this morning’s report was the relatively large tick down in the unemployment rate—from 9.0 percent to 8.6 percent. This is the largest monthly decrease in the unemployment rate since January. Partially accounting for the outsized decline, the labor force participation rate did tick down 0.2 percentage points to 64 percent; but the employment-to-population ratio improved to 58.5 percent—its highest level since March. Other evidence of labor market improvement is that the number of employed persons (according to the household survey) has increased lately. Over the last three months, the average monthly increase in employed persons was 318,000, compared to an average loss of 51,000 over the three months prior.