Good enough for government work.
The U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department announced today. That was up from a revised net add of 142,000 jobs in October but below the 180,000 expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Official unemployment fell to 4.6%, an eight-year low. The unemployment rate had been 4.9% in October. The U6 unemployment rate, which counts workers who have given up looking for jobs and workers in part-time jobs who would like to find full-time positions, dropped to 9.3% from 9.5% in October. The workforce participation rate, which shows the share of working-age people in the labor force, decreased to 62.7% in November from 62.8%. Despite month-to-month variation, the participation rate is near the lowest level since 1978.
Disappointingly, average hourly earnings fell by 0.1% from October. That was the first month-to-month drop since December 2014. That brings the increase in wages to 2.5% year over year. That’s down from a 2.8% year-over-year growth rate in October. Average hourly earnings had climbed 0.4% in October. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com were looking for an increase in wages of 0.2% in November.
Despite the slight disappointment on job and wage growth, I think these numbers are strong enough, especially with recent increases in inflation and inflation expectations, to ice a Federal Reserve interest rate increase at the central bank’s December 14 meeting.
The bond markets did see these numbers as being disappointing enough to lessen the odds for aggressive interest rate increases in 2017. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell 8 basic points to 2.37% this morning. That comes after an increase in yield on Thursday to the highest level since June 2015.