The Journal Gazette
Saturday, December 04, 2021 1:00 am

Job creation drops in November

Unemployment at lowest point since pandemic


WASHINGTON – America's unemployment rate tumbled last month to its lowest point since the pandemic struck, even as employers appeared to slow their hiring – a mixed picture that pointed to a resilient economy that's putting more people to work.

The government reported Friday that businesses and other employers added just 210,000 jobs in November, the weakest monthly gain in nearly a year and less than half of October's increase of 546,000.

But other data from the Labor Department's report painted a brighter picture. The unemployment rate plummeted from 4.6% to 4.2%, as a substantial 1.1 million Americans said they found jobs last month.

The economy still remains under threat from a spike in inflation, shortages of labor and supplies and the potential effect of the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

But for now, Americans are spending freely, and the economy is forecast to expand at a 7% annual rate in the final three months of the year, a sharp rebound from the 2.1% pace in the previous quarter, when the delta variant hobbled growth.

Employers in some industries, such as restaurants, bars and hotels pulled back on hiring in November.

By contrast, job growth remained solid in areas such as transportation and warehousing, which are benefiting from the growth of online commerce.

The fall in the unemployment rate was particularly encouraging because it coincided with an influx of a half-million job-seekers into the labor force, most of whom quickly found work. Normally, many such people would take time to find jobs and would be counted as unemployed until they did.

The influx of new job-seekers, if it continues, would help reduce the labor shortages that have bedeviled many employers since the economy began to recover from the pandemic.

“That's good news for job-seekers and workers, and for businesses, too,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at online jobs site ZipRecruiter.

“It looks like the supply constraints are easing a bit, with the unemployment rate low and wage growth high” – two factors that often encourage people to search for work.

November's report reflects a divergence in two surveys the government conducts each month.

The unemployment rate is calculated from a survey of households. For last month, this survey found that 1.1 million more people reported that they were employed. A separate survey of employers, called the payroll survey, reported just 210,000 added jobs.

Though the results of the two surveys typically match up in the long run, they can differ sharply in any one month.

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