U.S. employers added only 210,000 jobs in November, far fewer than economist estimates for gains of around 550,000, while the unemployment rate ticked lower to 4.2% from 4.6%. The number of unemployed persons fell by 542,000 to 6.9 million, according to the Department of Labor (DOL).
While unemployment has steadily decreased, the unemployment rate and total number of unemployed workers are still higher than pre-pandemic levels of 3.5%, and 5.7 million, respectively.
So far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 555,000, and job gains have increased by 18.5 million jobs since April of 2020, but are still down by 3.9 million, or 2.6% from February 2020.
The November employment data does not reflect the impacts of the new COVID-19 omicron variant, which was first reported late last week. In contrast to the DOL's disappointing headline figure, private employers have reported strong weekly payroll gains, including last week’s addition of 534,000 jobs, according to ADP.
Participation Rate and Wages Keep Rising
The labor force participation rate ticked slightly higher to 61.8% in November, as more Americans joined or rejoined the workforce, but it is still lower than its pre-pandemic average of around 63%. Wages also continued to increase last month, rising $0.08 to $31.03, and are up 4.8% year over year.
Where the Job Gains Are
The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, bars and hotels, saw very little hiring in November, compared to prior months, with only 23,000 gains in November. The sectors with the biggest gains included professional and business services with a gain of 90,000 jobs, transportation and warehousing with an increase of 50,000, and construction with 31,000.
Unemployment by Race
Unemployment by race continued to illustrate an uneven recovery in the labor market. While unemployment for White workers fell to 3.7%, the rate for Black workers was 6.7%, and 5.2% for Hispanic workers in November, although all groups saw declines last month.