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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – November 2016

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Unemployment Rate – November 2016

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

The November unemployment rate dropped to its lowest mark in nine years, while employers added 178,000 jobs.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 156,000 nonfarm job gains in November. Local, state and federal governments gained 22,000 jobs, resulting in 178,000 total net job gains. Economists had expected around 180,000 total job gains, according to various sources.

The BLS revised job gains for September and October 2016, showing that the economy netted 2,000 fewer jobs than the BLS had previously estimated for the two months. After that revision, job gains have averaged 176,000 per month over the past three months. So far this year, job gains have averaged 180,000 per month. They averaged 229,000 per month in 2015.

The unemployment rate dropped from 4.9 to 4.6 percent in November, its lowest since April 2007 (before the Great Recession).

Average hourly earnings for all private-sector employees increased by 3 cents to $25.89, after increasing by 11 cents in October. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent in a year. For private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, average hourly earnings increased by 2 cents to $21.73, after increasing by 4 cents in October.

The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 81 consecutive months since the Great Recession. The unemployment rate has dropped 5.4 percentage points from the recessionary high of 10.0 set in October 2009. (More information about the unemployment rate is below.)

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Job growth continued in professional and business services in November, this time by 63,000. This industry has added 571,000 jobs over the year.

At 28,000, job growth also continued in health care as it has for years. (For example, the industry has added 407,000 jobs in the past 12 months, for a monthly average of 33,917.) Much of the industry’s steady job growth over the past few years 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, one of the standard measures of labor-market health, lost 4,000 jobs. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health, gained 19,000 jobs. The industry has gained 59,000 jobs over the past three months, mostly in residential construction. (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 (15.2 percent) followed by Blacks (8.1), Hispanics (5.7), adult men (4.3), adult women (4.2), Whites (4.2) and Asians (3.0, not seasonally adjusted). No group experienced a significant change in their unemployment rate except for adult men, who saw a decrease from 4.6 to 4.3 percent.

Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 2.3 percent unemployment rate in November, down from 2.6 percent in October. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much higher 7.9 percent rate, up significantly from 7.3 percent in October. (See Table A-5 by the BLS for more information about the unemployment rate by education level.)

The unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percentage points in November, at least partially because some workers retired and some unemployed workers quit looking for jobs. The rate has ranged from 4.6 to 5.0 percent so far this year, the lowest range since 2007. Economists consider an unemployment rate of around 5.0 percent to be normal.

In order for the BLS to count workers as unemployed, they must have been actively seeking jobs in the four weeks preceding the count. The number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in November was 7.4 million, down from 7.8 million in October.

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 5.7 million, down from 5.9 million in October.

The average workweek for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.4 hours in November, unchanged from October and September.

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 1.9 million, up from 1.7 million in October. Among the marginally-attached, 591,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs. That was up significantly from the 487,000 that the BLS reported in 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 1.9 million in November, down slightly from 2.0 million in October. These workers accounted for 24.8 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, 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 2016 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the December unemployment rate and job numbers on January 6, 2017. 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).

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