The unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent in November, while the economy added more jobs than it has in nearly three years.
According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 314,000 nonfarm job gains. Local, state and federal governments netted 7,000.
The total net job gains in November were 321,000, the most in one month since January 2012. Analysts had estimated that the total would be around 225,000. The November unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, the same as it was in October. It was the lowest rate since July 2008.
The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 57 consecutive months since the Great Recession, the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in U.S. history. The unemployment rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points from the recessionary high of 10 percent in October 2009.
The BLS revised job gains for September and October, showing that the economy netted 44,000 more jobs over the two months than the BLS had previously estimated. The economy netted an average of 224,000 jobs per month in the 12 months prior to November.
Job growth continued in the professional and business services industry, at 86,000. Temporary help services (“temp workers”) gained 23,000 of those, while computer systems design and related services gained 7,000. The industry as a whole netted an average of 57,000 jobs per month in the 12 months prior to November.
The retail trade industry gained 50,000 jobs in November, with clothing and accessories stores and motor vehicle and parts dealers each gaining 11,000 of those. It is not uncommon for the retail trade to add thousands of jobs in preparation for holiday shoppers. Job growth in retail trade averaged 22,000 per month over the prior 12 months.
At 29,000 this time, health care again added jobs. The industry added an average of 21,750 jobs per month in the past 12 months. Much of the industry’s steady job growth over the past few years, even throughout the Great Recession, is attributable to the increasing medical demands of aging baby boomers and the ever-growing obesity epidemic, and to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as well.
Manufacturing, an industry that economists consider to be a gauge of labor-market health, netted 28,000 jobs. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health, netted 20,000. Employment in construction has continued to trend upward over the past year.
Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (17.7 percent) followed by blacks (11.1), Hispanics (6.6), adult men (5.4), adult women (5.3), whites (4.9) and Asians (4.8, not seasonally adjusted). No group experienced a significant rise or fall in their unemployment rate.
Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 3.2 percent unemployment rate in November, slightly up from 3.1 in October. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much-higher 8.5 percent rate, up significantly from 7.9 in October.
At 5.8 percent, the November unemployment rate stayed the same as it was in October even though more workers entered the job market. (That’s typical as the holiday season approaches.) The unemployment rate has steadily declined from 6.7 percent in March, the highest rate so far this year. A year ago, it was 7.0 percent.
The number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in November was little changed at 9.1 million. That number has declined by 1.7 million over the past year.
The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in November was 6.9 million, down slightly from 7.0 million in October.
The average workweek for both part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.6 hours in November, and their average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents to $24.66. (Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent in a year for all private-sector employees.) Average earnings rose by 4 cents to $20.74/hour for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees.
The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs.
The number of marginally-attached workers in November was 2.1 million, down slightly from 2.2 million in October. Among the marginally-attached, 698,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs — at least not for them. The number of discouraged workers was down from the 770,000 that the BLS initially reported for October. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)
The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 2.8 million, up slightly from 2.7 million in October. These workers accounted for 30.7 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed workers has declined by 1.2 million over the past year. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.
If you are a recent victim of job loss or a reduction in work hours resulting from the high unemployment rate, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.
For more details about the November 2014 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the December 2014 unemployment rate and job numbers on January 9, 2015. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.
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Certain figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.