U.S. hir­ing slowed to 155K jobs

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY CHRISTO­PHER RUGABER

U.S. em­ploy­ers added 155,000 jobs in Novem­ber, a slow­down from re­cent months but enough to sug­gest that the econ­omy is ex­pand­ing at a solid pace de­spite sharp gy­ra­tions in the stock mar­ket.

The La­bor Depart­ment said Fri­day that the un­em­ploy­ment rate re­mained 3.7%, nearly a five-decade low, for the third straight month. Av­er­age hourly pay rose 3.1% from a year ago, match­ing the pre­vi­ous month’s fig­ure, which was the best since 2009.

The econ­omy is ex­pand­ing at a healthy pace, but ris­ing trade ten­sions be­tween the U.S. and China, on­go­ing in­ter­est rate in­creases by the Fed­eral Re­serve and weak­en­ing global growth have roiled fi­nan­cial mar­kets. An­a­lysts ex­pect growth to slow but re­main solid in 2019 as the im­pact of last year’s tax cuts fade.

The jobs fig­ure was less than many economists fore­cast, but few saw the re­port as a sign of a broader slow­down.

“The econ­omy con­tin­ues to churn out new jobs and re­flects the strong un­der­ly­ing busi­ness con­di­tions that point to steady, al­beit slower job growth and eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in 2019,” said Joe Brusue­las, chief economist at con­sult­ing firm RSM. “This re­port strongly im­plies that a re­ces­sion is not loom­ing just over the hori­zon.”

The re­port is un­likely to dis­suade the Fed­eral Re­serve from raising short-term in­ter­est rates at its meet­ing later this month, as ex­pected, Brusue­las said. But it sug­gests the Fed may not hike rates next year as rapidly as many in­vestors have feared.

The on­go­ing job gains are push­ing down un­em­ploy­ment rates to his­tor­i­cally low lev­els for a va­ri­ety of groups. The un­em­ploy­ment rate for men aged 20 and above fell last month to 3.3%, the low­est in 18 years. And the rate for Amer­i­cans with just high school diplo­mas dropped to 3.5%, the low­est since De­cem­ber 2000. The African-Amer­i­can job­less rate de­clined to 5.9%, match­ing May’s fig­ure as the low­est on record.

Novem­ber’s job gains are down from Oc­to­ber’s ro­bust 237,000, which was re­vised lower from last month’s es­ti­mate. Hir­ing has av­er­aged 195,000 a month for the past six months, mod­estly be­low an av­er­age of 212,000 in the pre­vi­ous six.

Hir­ing in Novem­ber was led by health care firms, which added 40,100 jobs, and pro­fes­sional ser­vices such as ac­count­ing and en­gi­neer­ing, which gained 32,000. Man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies hired 27,000 new work­ers.

the most in seven months and a sign that trade ten­sions have yet to weaken fac­tory hir­ing.

Con­struc­tion firms cut back, how­ever, adding just 5,000 jobs, the fewest in five months. Hir­ing also slowed in restau­rants, bars and ho­tels.

Most re­cent data have pointed to solid eco­nomic growth. Amer­i­cans in­creased their spend­ing in Oc­to­ber by the most in seven months, and their in­comes grew by the most in nine months, ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment re­port last week. Con­sumer con­fi­dence re­mains near 18-year highs, sur­veys show. And both man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vices com­pa­nies ex­panded at a healthy pace in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to a pair of busi­ness sur­veys.

The hous­ing mar­ket, though, has stum­bled this year as the Fed’s rate hikes have con­trib­uted to sharply higher mort­gage rates. Sales of ex­ist­ing homes have fallen 5.4% from a year ear­lier, the big­gest an­nual de­cline in more than four years.

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