Broad-Based Job Gains and Solid Wage Growth Continue to Support Economy

December 06, 2019

Employers added 266,000 jobs in November, bolstered by the return of 41,000 workers who were on strike in October, as the unemployment rate ticked back down to 3.5% and average weekly earnings for all employees increased 3.1% year-over-year, well above the 1.8% inflation rate.

Revisions to the preliminary September and October numbers added 41,000 jobs, bringing the latest three-month average to 205,000, though gains remain below 2018 levels (223,000).

The number of employees working part-time for economic reasons fell by 116,000 in November and is down 459,000 over the past year.  However, the number of workers holding multiple jobs to make ends meet has increased by 345,000 over the past year.

Manufacturing jobs increased (+13,000 plus 41,000 returning GM employees) substantially for the first time in almost a year. 

Notably, hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees (3.7%), are increasing faster than supervisory employees (3.1%).

Employers across a broad spectrum of industries added jobs:

  • Manufacturing (+54,000);
  • Health care (+45,200);
  • Professional and business services (+38,000);
  • Bars and restaurants (+25,300); 
  • Transportation and warehousing (+15,500);
  • Social assistance (+15,000);
  • Financial activities (+13,000); and
  • Information (+13,000).

Most other industries were little changed, with the exceptions of mining and logging (-7,000).

Looking ahead:  According to the latest Conference Board forecast, economic growth is expected to moderate slightly into 2020, supported by continued job growth and wage increases.  Business sentiment and investment, which have been a drag on growth over the past year, are also expected to improve over the coming quarters.  The drop in interest rates has helped residential investment and is expected to continue to help maintain U.S. economic growth in 2020.