Job gains keep unemployment at 5 percent

The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in November and the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent.
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Exceeding expectations, the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in November and the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent.

The U.S. Department of Labor said today that there were job gains in construction, professional and technical services, and health care. The consensus forecast was for an increase of 200,000 jobs. The number of unemployed people was essentially flat, at 7.9 million, in November. The department upwardly revised its job figures for the previous two months. The September number moved up by 8,000, to 145,000, and the October figure improved by 27,000, to 298,000, for a total additional gain of 35,000 jobs.

Reuters said the solid job growth makes it likely that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates when its Federal Open Market Committee meets Dec. 15-16.

"We cleared the last hurdle for a rate increase. The Fed was looking for some positive movement on wages, and we got a little bit of that. There is absolutely nothing in this report that will keep the Fed from raising rates," Chris Gaffney, president at EverBank World Markets in St. Louis, told Reuters.

The department said the number of people who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more was little changed, at 2.1 million, in November and has shown little movement since June. The civilian labor force participation rate was 62.5 percent, and it also changed little in November.

The number of people employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased by 319,000, to 6.1 millio, in November, after declines in September and October. These people, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In November, 1.7 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 392,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These people were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

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