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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – November 2015

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Unemployment Rate – November 2015

Friday, December 4th, 2015

The November unemployment rate held at its lowest level in 7-1/2 years from October. Net job growth was solid and slightly above analysts’ expectations.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 197,000 nonfarm job gains in November. Local, state and federal governments netted 14,000 job gains, resulting in 211,000 total net job gains. Analysts had expected only around 200,000 total net job gains, according to various sources.

The unemployment rate held at 5.0 percent in November. That’s the lowest rate since April of 2008 when it was 5.0 percent, but beginning to rapidly rise toward the recessionary high of 10.0 set in October 2009.

The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 69 consecutive months since the Great Recession. The unemployment rate has dropped 5.0 percentage points from the 2009 recessionary high.

The BLS also revised job gains for September and October, showing that the economy netted 35,000 more jobs than the BLS had previously estimated for the two months. Net job gains have averaged 209,000 per month so far this year, for a total of 2.3 million.

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The professional and technical services industry added 28,000 jobs in November, even though temporary help services (“temp workers”) lost 12,300. The entire industry has gained 298,000 jobs so far this year.

Job growth continued in health care with 24,000 job gains, following gains of 51,000 last month. The industry has added 470,000 jobs so far this year. 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.

At 32,000, job growth also continued in the food services and drinking places industry. The industry has added 374,000 jobs in 2015.

The retail trade gained 31,000 jobs in November, some of which were likely due to temporary holiday hiring. The industry has netted 284,000 jobs this year.

Manufacturing, an industry that economists consider to be a gauge of labor-market health, lost 1,000 jobs in November. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health, gained 32,000 jobs. (See Table B by the BLS for more job numbers listed by industry.)

Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (15.7 percent) followed by blacks (9.4), Hispanics (6.4), adult men (4.7), adult women (4.6), whites (4.3) and Asians (3.9, not seasonally adjusted). No group experienced much change 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 2.5 percent unemployment rate in November, the same as in September and October. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much-higher 6.9 percent rate, down from 7.4 percent in October. (See Table A-5 by the BLS for more information about the unemployment rate by education level.)

Unemployment Rate 2008 to 2015
Unemployment Rate Chart 2008 to 2015

The unemployment rate has dropped 0.7 percentage points so far this year, from 5.7 to 5.0. Economists consider an unemployment rate of 5.0-5.5 percent to be normal and a sign of a healthy economy.

The number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed was 7.9 million in November, the same as in September and October. The number of unemployed workers has decreased by 1.1 million in the past 12 months.

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 6.1 million, up from 5.8 million in October. The number of workers who are involuntarily working only part time has declined by 765,000 in the past year.

The average workweek for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.5 hours in November, down by 0.1 from October. Their average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents to $25.25, after rising 9 cents last month. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.3 percent in a year. Average hourly earnings increased by 1 cent to $21.19 in November, 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 — at least not for them.

The number of marginally-attached workers in November was 1.7 million, down from 1.9 million last month. Among the marginally-attached, 594,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs. The number of discouraged workers was down from the 665,000 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 2.1 million in November, the same as in September and October. These workers accounted for 25.7 percent of the unemployed. 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 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the December 2015 unemployment rate and job numbers on January 8, 2016. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.

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Except where otherwise noted, 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.

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