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November U.S. Employment

December 8, 2017
By Robert A. Dye, Ph.D., Daniel Sanabria

November Payrolls Up 228,000, Unemployment Rate Steady at 4.1 Percent

  • Payroll Employment increased by 228,000 jobs in November.
  • The Unemployment Rate for November was steady at 4.1 percent.
  • Average hourly earnings increased moderately by 0.2 percent in November.
  • The average workweek increased in November by 0.1 hours, to 34.5.


The payroll jobs data for November showed a stronger-than-expected gain of 228,000 for the month. Consensus expectations were about 195,000. Workers also got paid 0.2 percent more in November, and the average workweek increased by 0.1 hours. So, we had the employment trifecta for the month – more workers got paid more money for more hours – just in time for the heart of the holiday shopping season. We expect total holiday sales to be strong this year, even with some brick-and-mortar establishments seeing ongoing erosion. In addition to support from the employment, earnings and hours data, holiday shopping will also be buoyed by strong consumer confidence and steady gains in house prices.

Today’s payroll number for November also removes the last vestiges of doubt about a fed funds rate increase next Wednesday. At this point, it would be a shock if the Fed did not increase the fed funds rate range to 1.25-1.50 percent at the conclusion of the December 12/13 Federal Open Market Committee Meeting. On Wednesday, we will also see a new set of economic projections from the Fed and a new “dot plot” showing FOMC member’s expectations for the fed funds rate over the next few years. We should discount the information in Wednesday’s dot plot more than usual given the turnover in leadership at the Fed. Wednesday will also feature Janet Yellen’s last post-FOMC meeting press conference as chairwoman of the FOMC.

The establishment payroll data for November shows that job gains were widespread across industries. Mining and logging operations increased employment by 7,000 for the month, consistent with higher oil prices and the recent uptick in the drilling rig count. The construction sector added a strong 24,000 jobs, likely boosted by hurricane clean-up activity. Manufacturing job gains were robust in November with a net 31,000 jobs added, mostly in durable goods industries. Wholesale trade employment was up by 3,400. Retail trade gained 18,700 workers after seasonal adjustment. Transportation and warehousing employment was up by 10,500. Information industries shed 4,000 workers in November. Financial services added 8,000, supported by real-estate-related activities. Professional and business services employment increased by a solid 46,000 in November. Education/healthcare added 54,000 workers. Leisure and hospitality payrolls expanded by 14,000 jobs. The government sector added 7,000 jobs for the month.

Market Reaction: U.S. equity markets opened with gains. The 10-Year T-bond yield is up to 2.37 percent. NYMEX crude oil is up to $57.22/barrel. Natural gas futures are up to $2.78/mmbtu.

For a PDF version of this report click here: Employment_12082017

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