BLS Releases November 2018 Employment Situation (Dec. 2018)
Nonfarm employers added 155,000 jobs, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, and hourly wages posted continued growth in November. With a modest downward revision to the job growth reported for the prior two months, the three-month average was 170,000 jobs, a clear slowing from the 204,000 average monthly rate over the last year.
Job gains occurred across a select group of sectors in November including health care, manufacturing, professional and business services, and transportation and warehousing. Health care added 32,000 jobs. Employment in manufacturing increased by 27,000, with durable goods dominating. Professional and business services continued its growth trend, adding 32,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing added 25,000 jobs in November. Professional and business services (adding 561,000 jobs over the last 12 months) and health care (328,000) continued to be the biggest drivers of job growth; with solid gains over the year coming from manufacturing (288,000) and transportation and warehousing (192,000).
While the unemployment rate was unchanged in November, the strong labor market is pulling more people into the labor market. The employment rate—or employment-to-population ratio (EPOP or the percentage of adults with jobs) remained unchanged in November at 60.6, a high for the recovery. The increased EPOP showed particular strength for prime-age workers (ages 25-54) with a gain of one full percentage point over a three-month average.
The tighter labor market is showing some dividends in wage growth. The average hourly wage is up 3.1 percent over the last year; over the last three months (September, October and November), the annualized rate was up 3.3 percent. With the core rate of inflation at 2.2 percent, increased hourly wages translate to modest real wage gains. .
In sum, this is mostly a positive jobs report. The pace of job growth that began seven years ago is continuing, with the economy adding 2.3 million jobs during the first 11 months of the year. This growth rate is pulling more workers into the labor market, which is now tight enough to produce wage gains. However, there is some evidence of weakness including a slight drop in hours worked and a low share of voluntary quits.
The full BLS press release on the November 2018 employment situation can be accessed in the link below:
The next employment situation report for December 2018 will be released on Friday, January 4, 2019.