Labor market surprisingly resilient after Sandy

Friday's payroll report isn't as bad as expected, but isn't all that good either.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 7, 2012 10:53AM

Man holding hardhat, Tetra Images, Getty ImagesUpdated 12:30 p.m. ET

The economic impact of Superstorm Sandy might not be as bad as some experts had expected, but the economy still is struggling. The Labor Department reported Friday that U.S. private sector employers added 146,000 jobs in November, far more than economists had expected. That caused unemployment to fall to 7.7%, its lowest level since December 2008.  


Wall Street was pleased with the report and pushed stocks up in midday trading. Investors, though, shouldn't confuse a less-bad-than-expected jobs report with a good jobs report. Indeed, the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 12 million. Also, the BLS revised down jobs figures in both September and October by 49,000 jobs, although revisions to jobs figures are common.
Economists had expected a gain of 85,000 jobs following a revised lower gain of 138,000 in October, according to Bloomberg News. The upside surprise seems to have come from Sandy, which devastated much of the Northeast coastline, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics "did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November." 

The payroll number was below the 151,000 average gain seen for the year and the 153,000-per-month average seen in 2011. According to the BLS, the average work week was unchanged at 34.4 hours. Average hourly earnings rose to $23.59. The unemployment rates among adult men, women, teenagers, whites and Hispanics held steady. Retail trade, professional and business services, and health care posted job gains.  

There are some signs of hope for U.S. jobs: Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook surprised investors Thursday by saying that the company planned to build some Mac computers in the U.S. The U.S. job market, though, continues to face challenges.  


But Wall Street continues to retrench. Citigroup (C) Thursday announced plans to lay off 11,000 workers and many analysts expect more to come. Also worrisome -- unemployment will spike if Congress fails to avoid the fiscal cliff.   

Fiscal cliff worries appear to be weighing on consumers. A well regarded measure of consumer confidence took a fall in early December to a four-month low. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer mood reading plummeted to 74.5 in early December from 82.7 a month earlier.

Even if that calamity is dodged, the best that Americans can expect is slow and steady progress in the jobs market. It may "win the race," but it's a pretty frustrating slog for those looking for work. 

More from MSN

Dec 7, 2012 12:08PM
350,000 people dropped out of the workforce last month, which is why the UE rate dropped significantly.  Now if only we can convince another 1.5 million people to give up looking for work, we'll be below 7% UE - woohoo!  Wait, maybe we can get there by putting a bunch of people on welfare/food stamps/disability - sound familiar?  The labor participation rate remains below 64% for the 11th straight month.

For every one entitlement recipient, we have 1.57 people working in the private sector.  If you throw gov employees into the mix, we only have 1.25 people working in the private sector for every 1 person who is directly depending on the gov for their income, either via a paycheck or a hand-out.  This ratio is only getting worse and is unsustainable.

Dec 7, 2012 2:45PM

12/4/12 11:30 a.m.

Updated: Number of individuals who have run out of benefits is now over 913,100 in California Alone.....Wake up folks the news is lying.

if you do the math between the people that were on the list, the ones on it now, the ones no longer qualifing, the jobs filled, and the ones no longer claiming you will see that the number of unemployed are way over 9.8 % yet they only work with and show the numbers that they can produce and we the guilable swallow the lies until after the first of the year when all the sudden more of the real numbers come out and still the will be lower than the actual numbers there guess is the unemployment rate is more likely closer to 12 % and now they are going to kill the middle class even more by playing petty power games at our expense until we reach the point where there is no more middle class....only rich and poor.
Dec 7, 2012 2:36PM
An all time low because alot of unemployment benifits have run out and regular workers have been forced to take seasonal jobs, lets see what Feb and March looks like.
Dec 7, 2012 3:20PM
They can stop the lying now,  the election is over.
Dec 7, 2012 2:39PM
The unemployment figures are so false, that one wonders about the liberal media and how corrupt they are! More and more people have given up looking! They are the forgotten people that the President and the Democrats in particular want to brush under the rug as insignificant.  You can not have such a small percentage of the total US population working and have numbers such as quoted and only an idiot would believe the numbers. I am glad more jobs have been created but I personally was forced on early SS because there are no jobs!
Dec 7, 2012 2:41PM
What I want to know is the TRUE numbers not the adjusted lies that the government puts out.  People look into your bank accounts are you REALLY better off or are they just lying as politicians will do to try to convince people to buy the BS.  Look at the homeless, look at the soup kitchens, look at the large number of organizations begging for money to help the needy and then tell me that the unemployment rate is actually better.  There might be more people working at minimum wage where they need financial help so they can eat and pay their bills but they are not better off.  The government has gotten too good at lying to further their own agenda.
Dec 7, 2012 2:43PM
Nice try at spinning it as positive. When are the media going to stop reporting with a slant. When lowering the UE can only happen by people dropping out of the workforce, there is something seriously still wrong. Fiscal cliff coming and where will our President be? On a Hawaii vacation, that the taxpayer will be footing the bill for. The people have spoken and this is what they will get.
Dec 7, 2012 3:21PM
Lets not forget that the government added over 500k jobs since July!  The numbers are being manipulated and they began being seriously manipulated when the presidential race heated up.  No president has ever been re-elected with an 8% plus unemployment rate, so the Obama administration has been fudging the number for a while!
Dec 7, 2012 3:39PM
Romney said, "When I'm elected, I will put Americans back to work," and 51% of the voters said, "F**k That !!"
Dec 7, 2012 2:39PM
The people that came up with this number sit in a office get out on the street I bet your number changes and it's not for the better Then again Barrack-a-Clause might not want you to report ACTUAL numbers !
Dec 7, 2012 3:28PM
"Here they go again"  claiming the economy is on the mend ALWAYS same ole song n dance every year during the holiday season..."job growth...we are on the right track....economy is gaining strength." Then every following Jan/Feb same ole bs...slowing back down...unemployment rate is up...yadda yadda politics as usual. Most of these "jobs" are **seasonal parttime low paying positions w/o any benefits. Meanwhile our country is going to ()&)(^)^**# while BOTH parties play their political games!! Our President keeps saying "recession ended in July of 2009"..for who??...Wall Street???...White House??? as Main Street, USA crumbles.
Dec 7, 2012 3:24PM
As I have always maintained - the "Jobless rate" is at best a very dim flashlight to place on the employment picture. Crank up the wattage  - and you will see there are MILLIONS that are unable to get a job because they are long-term unemployed, forced to "retire"  (remember there is no age discrimination )  - Both categories are "overlooked" by the jobless rate.

Dec 7, 2012 3:28PM
How many people have just stopped trying??????????????????????????????
Dec 7, 2012 3:19PM

it's not good at all.


a lot of unemployed people have lost all of their ui and aren't being counted in the official numbers.


the largest waves of layoffs were from 2008-2011. people let go in 2011 have exhausted their ui by now.


i think a better picture will come from the 2012 census, which asks questions about a person's recent employment status.


if you got the package, which you should have, and you're out of work, be sure to fill it out and send it in.


that's the only way your situation will officially register.

Dec 7, 2012 3:39PM
The job less rates are calculated on the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits. This only last for so long. When a person's benefits ends they are considered EmPLoYd? They cannot sign back up an extension. They are STILL OUT OF WORK and not counted.
Dec 7, 2012 3:29PM
Also, I heard that the unemployment rate for Governement workers is under 4%.  Obama is adding governement jobs at an alarming rate. Whom are these people going to vote for?  They will not vote Republican, because we believe in smaller governement.  I hope you all are not blind to these facts and can see what is happening.  Its nothing more than a long term plan to make all of us reliant on the Government from cradle to grave. A socialist utopia where we are all equally miserable and Governemnt is your sugar daddy.
Dec 7, 2012 4:55PM

Ok, time for the writer to put away the kool aid.


He forgets to mention the MILLIONS that have fallen off the gov't tit, exhausting their unemployment.




Just saying...




A dis-satisfied customer and voter...


Anybody who has ever collected unemployment compensation knows that the unemployment  rate, where they count only the short-term unemployed (basically those out of work for 2 years or less) is a deliberately misleading statistic, since it  ignores half the unemployed in the country (those out of work for 2 years or more).  This is all a game so that the government can say the unemployment situation is getting better and use that as an excuse to slash extended unemployment benefits.
Dec 7, 2012 4:07PM
They really keep thinking we are that stupid, or maybe they are that stupid.. People have dropped from unemployment and they arent taking that into consideration at all.. Plus, how about hiring for the holiday season.. Wake up.. Obama has bought the numbers people as well.. They dont want us all to get too mad about the situation.. WE might become AMERICANS again and demand that congress and the President do their job no matter what party they are... FOR AMERICA, wouldnt that be a new concept..
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