US Unemployment Rate Drops

The United States Bureau of labor statistics released its monthly survey of the national unemployment rate on Friday, and the numbers were promising. The 8.6 rate was the lowest percentage reported since March of 2009, and included 50,000 new private sector retail jobs. It will be interesting to see if the holiday season retail hiring spree continues in November following impressive data on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Here is the BLS press release:

The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent in November, and
nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Employment continued to trend up in retail trade, leisure and
hospitality, professional and business services, and health care. Government
employment continued to trend down.

Household Survey Data

In November, the unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent.
From April through October, the rate held in a narrow range from 9.0 to 9.2 percent.
The number of unemployed persons, at 13.3 million, was down by 594,000 in November.
The labor force, which is the sum of the unemployed and employed, was down by a
little more than half that amount. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men fell by 0.5
percentage point to 8.3 percent in November. The jobless rate for whites (7.6
percent) also declined, while the rates for adult women (7.8 percent), teenagers
(23.7 percent), blacks (15.5 percent), and Hispanics (11.4 percent) showed little
or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted.
(See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

In November, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs
declined by 432,000 to 7.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those
jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted
for 43.0 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)

The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to
64.0 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred
to as involuntary part-time workers) dropped by 378,000 over the month to 8.5
million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been
cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In November, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force,
about the same as a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These
individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and
had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as
unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the
survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in
November, a decrease of 186,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally
adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because
they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons
marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work in
the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 120,000 in November, in line with the
average gain for the prior 12 months (+131,000). The private sector added 140,000
jobs, as employment rose in a number of service-providing industries. Government
employment continued to trend down. (See table B-1.)

Employment in retail trade rose by 50,000 in November, with much of the increase
occurring in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+27,000) and in electronics
and appliance stores (+5,000). Since reaching an employment trough in December 2009,
retailers have added an average of 14,000 jobs per month.

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in November (+22,000).
Within the industry, food services and drinking places added 33,000 jobs. This gain
more than offset a loss of 12,000 jobs in the accommodation industry. In the last
12 months, leisure and hospitality added 253,000 jobs, largely driven by employment
increases in food services and drinking places.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in November
(+33,000). Modest job gains continued in temporary help services.

Health care employment continued to rise in November (+17,000). Within the industry,
hospitals added 9,000 jobs. Over the past 12 months, health care has added an average
of 27,000 jobs per month.

Manufacturing employment changed little over the month and has remained essentially
unchanged since July. In November, fabricated metal products added 8,000 jobs, while
electronic instruments lost 2,000 jobs.

Construction employment showed little movement in November. Employment in the
industry has shown little change, on net, since early 2010.

Government employment continued to trend down in November, with a decline in the U.S.
Postal Service (-5,000). Employment in both state government and local government has
been trending down since the second half of 2008.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at
34.3 hours in November. The manufacturing workweek was down by 0.2 hour to 40.3
hours, offsetting a 0.2 hour gain in the previous month. Factory overtime remained
at 3.2 hours in November. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory
employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours. (See
tables B-2 and B-7.)

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased in
November by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $23.18. This decline followed a gain of 7
cents in October. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by
1.8 percent. In November, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and
nonsupervisory employees increased by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $19.54. (See
tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised from
+158,000 to +210,000, and the change for October was revised from +80,000 to
+100,000.

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