Unemployment holds at 3.7%: Economy adds 155,000 jobs in November


The U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in November, below estimates and cooler than October, but the labor market continues to maintain momentum.

The unemployment rate held at 3.7 percent for the third straight month, the lowest level since December 1969, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

Expectations have been for around 190,000 jobs to be added.

Employment gains in September and October combined were 12,000 jobs less than previously reported.

The economy has added jobs for 98 straight months, beginning in October 2010 under former President Obama. It is the longest streak of monthly jobs growth on record.

"This is the sort of jobs report that manages to both calm folks at the Fed a bit — no, we're not right on the cusp of overheating — while also continuing the narrative of robust ongoing jobs growth that will, if it continues, keep bringing unemployment down," said Justin Wolfers, a economist at the University of Michigan.

"For now, this month's jobs report is a continuation of 'The Little Engine That Could' as the recovery has now yielded positive jobs growth for 8 years and 2 months in a row — a new record," Wolfers said.

On Tuesday the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 799 points and started off Thursday down, eventually recovering to lose 79 points. 

The markets have been rattled by U.S.-China trade fears, although President Trump and the Chinese government say they want to make a deal to end sweeping tariffs.

President Trump has touted the strength of markets as a reflection of the success of his economic policies. But after tweeting regularly through early November, the president hasn't mentioned Wall Street since Nov. 12.

The president wrote a slew of tweets Friday morning, including one about China as U.S. and Chinese delegations discuss changes in trade policies.

The market got a boost on Thursday after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Reserve may pause planned interest rate hikes.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said, “This is a solid report as we head into the holiday season, highlighting a year of growth for our country."

The market was looking to start down ahead of the November jobs report.

Overall 2.3 million jobs have been added this year — 12.7 percent above last year’s pace of 2.01 million over the same period, according to David Berson, chief economist for Nationwide.

"The November employment report was slightly disappointing overall, as several of the key components were modestly below market expectations, but overall the report was not indicative of a weak economy," Berson said.

"Indeed, most economists view monthly job gains over around 100,000 as being above trend at this point in the expansion," he said.

In November, job gains occurred in health care, in manufacturing and in transportation and warehousing.

Health care employment rose by 32,000 jobs last month, adding 328,000 jobs over the year.

Manufacturing added 27,000 jobs, employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 25,000 jobs in November and professional and business services added 32,000 people to their payrolls. The industry has added 561,000 jobs over the year.

Retailers added 18,000 jobs in November.

Jobs fell by 3,000 in mining, a sector of the economy that had been growing.

Wages rose 3.1 percent over the year, the same as last month and the second time growth has topped 3 percent since 2009.

"Payroll headline looks poor, but it's not a tariff hit; manufacturing up a hefty 2.7K," Ian Shepardson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, tweeted.

He said it is "mostly due to weak construction (hammered by two hurricanes, which have hurt housing) and noisy weakness in finance, information and leisure. No reason to think this is the start a weaker trend."

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