Last month’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary was the worst all year. But any thoughts that it would start a trend were dashed this morning.
In November, our economy added 199,000 net new nonfarm payroll positions. That was not only at the high end of published predictions – the ones I saw were 150,000, 190,000, and 200,000 – but four times what we needed to cover population increase. All but one of the statistics I report on improved. Seasonally adjusted and unadjusted unemployment reached 3.7% and 3.5%, down 0.2% and 0.1%. The number of people with jobs gained 473,000 to 162,149,000, and officially unemployed, seasonally adjusted, dropped 200,000 to 6.3 million. The long-term jobless out for 27 weeks or longer fell 100,000 to 1.2 million, and those working part-time for economic reasons, or holding on to shorter-hours propositions while seeking full-time ones, lost 300,000, getting to 4.0 million. The measures of how common it is for Americans to be working or counted as technically jobless, the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio, rose 0.1% and a large 0.3% to arrive at 62.8% and 60.8%. Average hourly private nonfarm payroll wages added 10 cents, more than inflation again, to $34.10. Those claiming no interest in work were 9,000 more numerous and numbered 94,839,000.
The American Job Shortage Number or AJSN, the metric showing how many additional positions could be quickly filled if everyone knew they would be easy to get, lost 488,000 from last month, and ended up at this:
Ninety percent of this month’s change was due to fewer unemployed and fewer American expatriates, the current State Department estimate of whom fell one million. The share of the AJSN from those officially jobless was 33.5%, down 0.5%.
Compared with a year before, the AJSN decreased 154,000, with the change in expatriates, and in those wanting work but not looking for it for at least a year, more than offsetting an increase in the jobless count.
If we draw a two-month line from September to November, we get average monthly jobs gains of 174,500, adjusted and unadjusted unemployment each down 0.1%, 100,000 fewer officially jobless, long-term unemployment unchanged, the employment-population ratio the same but the labor force participation rate up 0.4%, those working part-time for economic reasons down 100,000, people employed up 480,000, and the hourly wages above up 22 cents. The AJSN fell 543,000. The only minus is the count of those denying any interest in work, which over the past two months increased 428,000.
All that means we’re still doing superbly. We, in general, more than cancelled out the previous month’s disappointing showing. No recession, no shortage of work, wages strong, and inflation at 3%. Overall, these are great times for the American economy. The turtle took a double-sized step forward.