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Politics & Money

U.S. unemployment rate falls to 50-year low

Economy adds 266,000 jobs in November

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to another 50-year low, coming in at 3.5% in November as the economy added 266,000 jobs after October’s upwardly revised 156,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The number of unemployed persons changed little, with 5.8 million out of work, according to the report.

Comparing demographic segments, the jobless rates showed little or no change over the month, coming in for both women and men at 3.2%, whites at 3.2%, Hispanics at 4.2%, teenagers at 12%, Asians at 2.6% and blacks at 5.5%.

The average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose 3.1% from a year ago, up 7 cents to $23.83, the report said.

The change in total non-farm payroll employment in September was revised upward to 193,000 jobs from 180,000. With the revisions to the prior two months, employment gains in September and October combined were 41,000 more than previously reported.

The majority of job gains in November can be attributed to in healthcare and professional and technical services. Manufacturing employment also increased, reflecting a return of workers from a GE strike.

The average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.4 hours in November.

Here are some of the areas that showed notable changes in October:

  • Employment in healthcare increased by 45,000 jobs
  • Employment in professional and technical services increased by 31,000 jobs
  • Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 45,000 jobs
  • Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 16,000 jobs
  • Employment in financial activities increased by 13,000 jobs
  • Employment in mining decreased by 7,000 jobs

The final jobs report of the year outpaced expectations and supports the argument that the economy isn’t facing imminent recession, said Odeta Kushi, First American’s deputy chief economist.

“Today’s numbers point to a more competitive housing market next year,” Kushi said. “Job growth is steady, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, a 50-year low, and wages are rising modestly, which bolsters Americans’ spending power.”

That translates into more demand for homes, Kushi said.

“Housing is the most durable consumer good we’ll ever buy,” she said, “and surging house-buying power fuels greater potential demand in a supply-constrained market. There’s no evidence that these dynamics will change in 2020.”

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