US employers added a sluggish 210,000 jobs in November

WASHINGTON — America’s employers slowed the pace of their hiring in November, adding 210,000 jobs, the lowest monthly gain in nearly a year.

But Friday’s report from the Labor Department also showed that the nation’s unemployment rate tumbled from 4.6% to 4.2% evidence that many more people reported that they had a job. That is a historically low jobless rate though still above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5%.

Overall, the November jobs figures point to a job market and an economic recovery that look resilient though under threat from a spike in inflation, shortages of workers and supplies and the potential impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

For months, employers have been struggling with worker shortages because many people who lost jobs in the pandemic have not, for various reasons, returned to the workforce. But last month, more Americans came off the sidelines to look for jobs and were generally hired quickly.

That positive trend suggests that November was a healthier month for job growth than the modest 210,000 gain the government reported Friday in its survey of businesses. The unemployment rate is calculated from a separate survey of households. This survey found that a much larger 1.1 million more people reported that they were employed last month. The results of the two surveys typically match up over the long run but sometimes diverge sharply in a given month, as they did in November.

The survey of households found that the number of unemployed Americans sank in November to 6.9 million, not far above the pre-pandemic number of 5.7 million. And average wages, which have been rising as employers try to attract or keep workers, increased a strong 4.8% from a year ago.


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