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US economy adds 199k jobs in November as labor market remains robust

By Jake Beardslee · December 8, 2023

In brief…

  • US added 199k jobs in November while unemployment fell to 3.7%
  • Gains partly attributed to returning strikers in auto, entertainment
  • Underlying monthly growth around 160k jobs
  • Retail, temp help saw losses due to e-commerce, technology
  • Report keeps Fed options open but another pause still expected
The US jobs report showed ongoing labor market strength in November despite some onetime boosts from returning strikers, keeping the Fed's options open for future rate decisions.

The US economy added 199,000 jobs in November according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, providing another sign of labor market strength. The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 3.7% from 3.9% the previous month.

“The economy’s still humming along,” said Jane Oates, CEO of WorkingNation, to CNN, commenting on the report. Oates noted the numbers were better than many analysts had predicted in recent weeks. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv had expected 180,000 new jobs and for unemployment to hold steady.

Some of November’s gains were attributed to one-time factors as workers returned from strikes. Health care and government saw the largest increases at 93,200 and 49,000 jobs respectively. Manufacturing also got a boost as autoworkers came back, contributing to a 30,000 job rise in motor vehicles. An end to a actors’ union strike added 17,200 jobs in entertainment as well. Taking these factors out still leaves an underlying monthly growth rate of around 160,000 jobs, according to ZipRecruiter analyst Julia Pollak.

Retail trade and temporary help services saw losses of 38,400 and 13,600 jobs. Oates attributed this in part to technology’s impact on retail employment as e-commerce grows.

The report indicates continued labor market strength fueling economic growth, though Fed officials feel slower demand will help reduce inflation, according to the article. Average hourly earnings rose 0.4% but annual growth eased slightly to 4%. Through November the economy has added 232,000 jobs per month on average.

The strong report leaves the Fed with flexibility at its next meeting but a pause is still expected as inflation cools, according to EY economist Lydia Boussour. She doesn’t foresee rate cuts being discussed until early 2024.