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Does November jobs report signal December interest rate hike?

Jobs increase by 211,000

November job creation increased by 211,000 in November, giving the final confirmation that the Fed will likely raise rates this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

This comes after last month’s positive report that jobs surged to 271,000.

“Today’s November jobs report continues to show an upbeat picture of the labor market. A solid job gain of 211,000 following sizable upward revisions in the prior two months boosted the average job gain over the past three months to a respectable 218,000, the best showing since July,” said Doug Duncan, chief economist with Fannie Mae.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5%, and the number of unemployed came in at 7.9 million, essentially unchanged.

Over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons are down by 0.8 percentage point and 1.1 million, respectively.

Duncan added, “The unemployment rate held steady amid the first rise in the labor force participation rate since May. Annual wage gains decelerated slightly but remain near the upper-end of the range observed over the past several years. The implication for housing is also encouraging, as construction payrolls posted the best back-to-back gains since January. Today’s report reinforces our view that underlying domestic demand appears to be solid enough for the Fed to finally depart from its zero interest rate policy this month.”

Hourly earnings for all employees slightly increased, rising 4 cents to $25.25, following a 9-cent gain in October.

Labor force participation rate barely changed and came in at 62.5% in November.

“The November jobs report showed another strong month of job gains, along with upward revisions to prior months,” said National Association of Federal Credit Unions Chief Economist Curt Long.

“Wage growth moderated somewhat, but the labor force participation rate ticked up for the first time since May. This should put to bed any doubts about whether the Fed will announce a rate increase later this month. Barring something completely out of left field between now and then, liftoff will commence with a quarter-point rate increase to the target federal funds rate,” said Long.

In a Congressional committee hearing on the U.S. economy on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the current outlook and the flow of data since the central bank's last meeting in October are "consistent" with the rate hike criteria spelled out by U.S. policymakers.

And back in November, in a speech before the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen formalized the possibility of a rate hike in December, telling the Committee that December’s meeting is a “live possibility” for a rate increase.

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