Labor market surprisingly resilient after Sandy
Friday's payroll report isn't as bad as expected, but isn't all that good either.
Updated 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.
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WHAT THE F IS OUR GOVERNMENT DOING ABOUT IT? THE WAR ON TERRORISM HAS BEEN RIGHT HERE ON AMERICAN SOIL FOR YEARS NOW. GET OFF YOUR LAURELS AND LOBBIES AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE OR FIND AN EXIT AND KEEP GOING.
I CONDEMN Michigan's government. NONE will be re-elected and NONE of this lowlife garbage New World Order legislation will survive your terms. You are the SCUM OF THE EARTH.
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.
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