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 5:57PM

unemployment low tell me another lie. I have been looking for work since march i put in at least 800 + applications and i get discriminated against because i am older,a female,not hispanic,not a veteran,over qualified and what ever else you may think of.

and this is for anything you can think of

I am a manager in food service i can not get a job for a cashier or cook with years old experience

tell me about unemployment low can not get a 8 dollar a hour job

so sad and now i am told my unemployment will be cut that i have put in for since i was 15 1/2 years old this is my first time on unemployment ever.

If Obama does not do the euc there will be alot of problems people begging and stealing to pay their bills among other things

I don't have nothing to sell or even a car anymore cause i can not get work i don't even have my own home anymore i am forced to live with people giving them part of my unemployment

so tell me unemployment rate dropped how many lose their jobs at hostess 18,000+ how many at citibank 11,000+ where is it getting better?

So Sad

Dec 7, 2012 5:27PM
The unemployment number the gov't gives is how many people are collecting unemployment compensation, not how many people are without a job. There's been advocacy for years to change the number to people with no job vs. people on unemployment. The unemployment number going down means less people are on unemployment not that those people found work. If you were to add people working less than 18 hrs per week (underemployed) the number is staggering. The jobless rate is at about 19% and underemployed included is 24% (nevada is at 33%, being the highest state of jobless and underemployed). It's not that the gov't is "lying" it's just always used this statistic as an indicator due to the easiness of getting unemployment records rather than census of people not working.
Dec 7, 2012 5:16PM
Unmemployed whose benenfits have run out or coudln't get them in the first place are not counted. People in part time jobs that want to work full time are not counted usually. The official unemployment is rather a bogus number that doesn't reflect the whole picture. For a more accurate figure that counts the groups I mentioned, it can be safely doubled. That is around 16% of the working age population that is underemployed or unemployed with only half receiving benenfits.
Dec 7, 2012 5:14PM

Why doesn't sites like MSN inform the reader's just how unemployment is figured. Government only samples around 60,000 homes to come up with this %. Many people have fallen off the grid because they have run out of benefits. UE does not include those on welfare. those UE that worked part time those that graduated college. This year their were roughly 1,800,000 students graduated from college and it is estimated that only 10% will find work. How do you account that since obama took office that the number of food stamps has more than doubled.


Dec 7, 2012 5:13PM

sure i guess when enough people can NO LONGER collect UEB's, because the time ran out beofre they could find a job it would naturaly drop.

 in 2008 i was laid off with millions of other Americans. I looked daily, day after day for work. then my USB max was reached. i was NO LONGER COUNTED as one of the "unemployed seeking work", but as one of those who, "gave up looking". let me fill some of you in on that... i never did give up looking day after day, yet i was put on that list as a quitter, something i never in my life to this day have been. I got lucky, landed a few temp service jobs, where i was let go just before my 90 days, until i found the job i am employed at to this day. my anniversary date is july 5th, 2011, and i still remain at this company. Am still a hard worker, who puts forth an honest effort, and trains those who need training in my fields. i hold more than 1 trade under my belt at the present moment, in total 4. around march if not sooner i will be working on my 5th.

 i stand behind all the unemployed who are hard working and still jobless and or struggeling. There are people who have no clue what i and others in my former position have/still go thru. it took over 1 yr for me to actually start to settle into my job without worry i was going to loose it for no reason other than the company to save money.

 articles like this make me want to puke, and knock who ever decides to spread crap like this into the next decade. they are clueless, or do not care to tell the truth behind the real scenes as to what is actually going on.

 proof in point? even tho jobs are still being lost faster than created, please exsplain to me how else the jobless rate can fall? 1 minus 2 does not make 3, it makes negative 1 in real world mathmatics. guess we can put that in the list of false representation such as "humaitarian aid"? since when is dropping a bomb on people helping them as they lay scattered on the ground, or buried in rubble? thats what the US was doing in Libya (a country we no longer hear a word since it was discovered we gave it terrorists).

 the leaders of our nation treat the public like sheeple with goodie 2 shoe words, and deception, and the majority lap it up like a hungry kitten with a saucer of fresh milk.... pathetic. if i were to have 1, just 1 wish in my lifetime for x-mas? it would be for the American public to wake up and smell the coffee.... well in this case, the bull  **** cooking on the federal stove top.

Dec 7, 2012 5:07PM
Spin, spin, spin around. 350K give up looking. How convenient. More importantly, September and October adjusted down 50K. Hmmmm right before the election. Hmmmm fishy.
Dec 7, 2012 4:57PM
I wonder why it dropped?  Do you suppose it might be due to seasonal hireing.  Lets see what the numbers are in Feb. 2013.
Dec 7, 2012 4:56PM

The election is over.  You don't need to lie to impress us!



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...


Dec 7, 2012 4:47PM
How funny every December the job market gets better and then drops in January. And only the lib erals don't know why.
Dec 7, 2012 4:47PM

When I go to the local mall, I see allot of people there. Go to an Apple store and watch how busy it is and all the people buying new iPhones. 

You are all blind. The economy is not as bad as you seem to want to believe it is. You are just happy when you are complaining. I am sick of it. 

Get behind the government. Participate and write your congress. Ask yourself, when was the last time you expressed your negative opinions to someone who mattered? Have you 'ever' written your congress and told them all the negative crap you are so happy spreading on these blogs? Get off your a** and do something constructive instead of whining like a bunch of spoiled brats who get off on finding new ways to impress people with how clever you are at  insulting our public servants. I for one am not impressed. Maybe some helpful suggestions would be more productive on these blogs than spewing the useless poison most of you are. My suggestion is call or visit your congress person. It makes a difference. Moaning and groaning to me just wastes time.  

Dec 7, 2012 4:43PM

You have to be a Complete Idiot to believe those numbers. Once people get kicked off unemployment, and are wandering the freaking streets they don't count anmore!

WAke Up Sheep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dec 7, 2012 4:41PM
Same old MSNBC.  Seriously?  My gawd, you people are just obscene in your attempts to cheer lead for the Snake Oil Salesman.  Any media outlet worth it's salt would report the U-6 unemployment rate which is the true number of folks out of work or underemployed.  That number is about 15%, not  the ridiculous U-3 rate which doesn't count those who have siimply given up looking. 

Dec 7, 2012 4:38PM
It's no wonder this country is doing poorly. All the negativity, skepticism and paranoia from most of you people, quit complaining. This country only does well when a level of patriotism and trust is healthy. The process for number reporting is the same now as it was four years ago when those same numbers reported 750,000 jobs being lost every month. The people leaving the work force factor was the same then. We are showing positive numbers, a plus factor of 900,000 a month as opposed to 2008-09 i.e. negative 750k plus positive 150k. What short memories, and what a bunch of cry babies and whiners you are.  You think your helping by spreading your negative crap all over these blogs? You are not. You are hurting. 

Instead of complaining and fighting the government, get on board. Write your congressman. I do. Whining and complaining on these posts does not help anyone. Just bolsters your own pathetic egos and your urge to piss an moan. Get behind the president and tell your congressman or woman to let the President lead, not to fight him all the time so that nothing at all gets done. 

Even if higher taxes are not the 'best' choice, (I believe it is the best choice right now) doing that is a move... it is something that will help more than doing nothing at all. Better than sitting in the corner pouting doing nothing like Congress is. 

Get on board people. You sound like a bunch of spoiled brats and un-American. We need to pull together. You are not helping. Write your Congress. Tell them to raise taxes and get some stimulus. We can pay down the debt much better later once we get the economy breathing again. Stimulus is like jumping your battery when it dies. Cutting spending right now will only make things worse. Once we all have some revenue and stimulus in the economy then jobs will jump start because people will spend again. 

Its common sense. Use some!!!! Its fun!!
We all here know what the average Obama voter (read ignoramus) does not know. The unemployment rate dropped because there are fewer people looking for a job. People did not find a job and they are not working. They gave up on Obama and his little fantasy world that is propped up by the willing media in this once great nation. These people were counted as unemployed last month, but, because they gave up all hope of finding a job and dropped out of the system, they are no longer counted. They still don't have a job, but they are not counted as unemployed. How's that Hopey Changey crap workin' out for ya?
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 4:17PM
A big omission from this story.  The Obama administration issued work permits to 53,000 illegal alien "children" (up to age 30) in the past month.  It plans to issue at least 1.7 million.  Meanwhile, we continue to admit about 100,000 legal immigrants each month, legal immigrants who need work, too.  That effectively wipes out the effect of any jobs that were just created.  Of course, the Obama administration is ignoring the requirement that would-be immigrants not become "public charges" and is even encouraging immigrants and illegal aliens to use means-tested programs.
Dec 7, 2012 4:15PM
let me c . fuel prices still quite high. never dropped much all summer either. so who is running this country anyway?????? I'd say the fuel companies, wouldn't you?? all the **** in Iraq and we the people still get it in the ****. Bend over America cause we're gonna get it some more. The only ones that are getting anything out of all of this polictical **** is the BIG BUSINESS (THE FUEL COMPANIES) !!!! Everything evolves around getting **** from point A to point B, FUUEELLLLL. 
Dec 7, 2012 4:14PM

The 138,000 job number needs to be clarified.


Alot of company's do holiday hiring ( ex. Fed-Ex, UPS, Kolhs) during the late October through December period.


How many of the 138,000 jobs are full-time permanent positions vs. holiday positions which usually terminate

at the end of December.


So, lets not get to exicited.

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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