The U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.
Economists had expected the economy to add 200,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 3.7 percent. The range of forecasts by economists surveyed by Econoday was between a gain on payrolls of 150,000 to 275,000. On unemployment, the range of forecasts was 3.6 percent to 3.8 percent.
The Labor Department’s Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey showed that there were 10.3 million job openings at the end of October, around 1.7 vacancies for every unemployed person. Federal Reserve officials frequently cite the vacancy ratio as evidence that the labor market is so tight that it risks fueling inflation.
The demand for labor from employers has proven highly resilient, adding to payrolls and vacancies even as the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates up at the fastest pace in decades. The bottom of the Fed’s range for its benchmark rate has gone from zero at the start of the year to 3.75 percent today. The Fed is expected to announce a 50 basis point hike at its December meeting.
“In the labor market, demand for workers far exceeds the supply of available workers, and nominal wages have been growing at a pace well above what would be consistent with 2 percent inflation over time. Thus, another condition we are looking for is the restoration of balance between supply and demand in the labor market,” Fed chairman Jerome Powell said this week.
The supply of labor has been persistently below prepandemic levels, with a larger share of Americans preferring to remain outside the workforce. The Labor Department said on Friday that both the labor force participation rate, at 62.1 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.9 percent, were little changed in November and have shown little net change since early this year.
Leisure and hospitality added 88,000 jobs, including a gain of 62,000 in bars and restaurants. Health care added 45,000 jobs. Government employment grew by 42,000, of which 32,000 were in local government. Construction employment grew by 20,000 despite the recession in the housing market. Manufacturers added 14,000 jobs, less than half the monthly average this year. Despite headlines about layoffs in the tech sector, information technology companies added 19,000 jobs.
Employment in transportation and warehousing fell by 15,000 in November and has decreased by 38,000 since July. Retail jobs fell by 30,000 in November. General merchandise stores cut 32,000 jobs, electronics and appliances stores shed 4,000 jobs, and furniture stores shrank payrolls by 3,000. Car dealerships added 10,000 jobs. Retail employment is down 62,000 since August.
The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose or 0.6 percent. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 5.1 percent, significantly below the rate of inflation. In November, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 0.7 percent.
The figures for prior months were revised in contrary directions. September was revised down by 46,000, from 315,000 to 269,000. October was revised up by 23,000, from 261,000 to 284,000. With these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 23,000 lower than previously reported.