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 4:05PM

Once again we hear the happy, happy news that the unemployment numbers are falling. Oh joy! Too bad the actual numbers, unsuprisingly, are absent.

As others have mentioned, those unemployed for long periods and still looking for work aren't counted. Why not? Unemployment should mean NOT EMPLOYED. Saying more people are working is a whitewash. How many of those finding work are finding REAL jobs, jobs that someone can live on? Why are we hearing people are being employed yet it's also a fact the average worker's value has dropped to decades long lows and more of the american population is plunging toward poverty? Why are companies allowed to use the WalMart plan - low pay and training employees how to get government assistance rather than company paying the benefits? All these Underemployed should also be counted in any employment report. This is the real picture.

How many of these 'jobs' are padded with 'undocumented workers' or imported labor on government issued visas? Corporations hand jobs to people from foriegn nations who don't make enough to buy the goods and services they produce. They swell the population and cause increased burden to already overstretched government services. In the meantime, the actual american population is forced to turn to the government for assistance .

No one notices america burns while the businessmen fiddles?

Dec 7, 2012 3:58PM
We will know in February what the jobless numbers really were after they are adjusted.
Dec 7, 2012 3:55PM
Citigroup announce 11k people will be laid-off, but the UE rate is low?
How stupid does Obama think we are?
Stupid enough to vote him in again.

Dec 7, 2012 3:54PM
Unemployment rate and inflation rate are both numbers manufactured out of fantasy by government lyars. The first number ignores those workers who ran out of their unemployment benefits (the real unemployment number is 14.7%); the second number 1.7% ignores prices of food and energy (the real number is 9%).
Dec 7, 2012 3:53PM

Don't you just love the deception of the jobs report.  When 350000 people stop looking for work and are no longer counted and you only add 146000 to the work force, my math tells me that a net jobs loss of 204000 actually happened.

Dec 7, 2012 3:47PM
......and the world is flat ,the check's in the mail, obam was borh in Hawaii....
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 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 3:28PM
How many people have just stopped trying??????????????????????????????
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 3:21PM
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 3:20PM
They can stop the lying now,  the election is over.
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.

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 2:45PM

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.

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 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 2:39PM
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 !
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