This may be the closest our nation’s employment situation has ever come to being unchanged by a Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary.
The good news, and almost all the news for that matter, was the creation of 228,000 net new nonfarm positions, almost 100,000 more than population growth and about what some analysts projected. Otherwise, little happened. Adjusted and unadjusted unemployment were unchanged at 4.1% and 3.9% respectively. There are still 1.6 million people officially jobless and without work for 27 weeks or longer. The labor force participation rate held at 62.7%, and the number of Americans working part-time for economic reasons, or holding on to less than full-time propositions while looking beyond that level, stayed at 4.8 million. Average private nonfarm payroll earnings, after a downward 3-cent October adjustment, went up 5 cents per hour to $26.55, the closest rounding-to-the-nearest-penny figure to inflation. Two major metrics had one-increment worsenings, as the employment-population ratio decreased 0.1% to 60.1% and the number of unemployed went up 100,000 to 6.6 million.
The American Job Shortage Number or AJSN, the Royal Flush Press statistic showing how many new positions could be quickly filled if getting one were known to be easy, got into the breakeven act with distinction, down from October’s 16,169,554 to 16,169,313 for an improvement of 242, or .0015%. That, while humorous, is of course statistically insignificant – in fact, the same would be true for a gain or loss of 100 times that amount – so we can safely say the metric in November was unchanged. For the sake of completeness, here is the latest breakdown:
The latent demand effect of none of the above categories changed more than 49,500, that coming from a drop in the number of discouraged workers from 524,000 to 469,000. The share of jobs that would go to those officially unemployed is still a hair short of 35%.
There were greater differences between last month and November 2016. The largest change in our job shortage came from official unemployment’s fall from 7,066,000, which, with a latent demand drop of 702,000, was very close to the AJSN’s 714,000 one-year decline.
Was November, then, good? The best thing about it, aside from the gain in jobs, is that we are camping at some good levels – those unemployment rates, the decline in those out for half a year or more, and undistinguished but off-recent-low working and participation rates. Worst was that we really went nowhere, meaning our low jobless figures are still heavily dependent on people leaving the labor force. Our monthly job gain did not seem to help the other numbers at all. The turtle, then, stayed right where he was.