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Jobs Report Beats Expectations as Unemployment Rate Tumbles to 5-Year Low


You could argue that 7.0% is the only number that matters.  That the slump in the headline unemployment rate to a five-year low is all that Americans, and the Fed, need to know and care about.

Sure there are ways to poke holes in any monthly payroll report, but all in all, the November jobs data - and thus the broader economy - look pretty good.

“I think, on balance, it’s a very good report,” says Mark Hamrick, the Washington bureau chief for Bankrate.com in the attached video.   “We came into this report kind of wondering, ‘Could a better than expected October report be sustained?’ The answer clearly this morning with this report is yes.”

Officially, 203,000 new jobs were created last month, while over 800,000 people claimed, via the telephone survey, to have re-joined the workforce.  This, combined with a drop in the total number of unemployed people (-365,000 to 10.9 million), was responsible for the dip to 7%, as well as an unexpected uptick in the participation rate to 63.0%, from a 35 year low of 62.8% previously. 

That still means about a third of the country’s working age population is off the grid so to speak.   A fact that continues to be one of the persistent sore spots for a recovery that is now five years old.  

Also of concern is the ongoing dearth of wage growth, which edged up four cents, or 0.2%, to an average hourly rate of $24.15 last month.  The so-called “U-6” number, which is the broadest measures of joblessness, also fell from 13.8% to 13.2%, yet few people can take much joy in this number.

And so, all things considered, you could argue that the creation of so-so jobs continues at a somewhat sluggish pace.  That more people are working, but are doing so for less money than they used to make. 
As Hamrick says, “this is about as good a report as one could reasonably expect.  We’re getting to where we want and need to be.” 

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