Solid U.S. job growth cuts unemployment to 7 percent

Rate is at a five-year low
Associated Press
Dec 7, 2013

The U.S. job market is proving surprisingly resilient.

Solid job growth in November cut the U.S. unemployment rate to 7 percent, a five-year low. The robust gain suggested that the economy may have begun to accelerate. As more employers step up hiring, more people have money to spend to drive the economy.

Employers added 203,000 jobs last month after adding 200,000 in October, the Labor Department said Friday. November's job gain helped lower the unemployment rate from 7.3 percent in October. The economy has added a four-month average of 204,000 jobs from August through November, up sharply from 159,000 a month from April through July.

"It's hinting very, very strongly that the economy is starting to ramp up, that growth is getting better, that businesses are hiring," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

The job growth has also fueled speculation that the Federal Reserve will scale back its economic stimulus when it meets later this month.

It "gives the Fed all the evidence it needs to begin tapering its asset purchases at the next ... meeting," said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics.

Stock investors were heartened by the news. The Dow Jones industrial average surged nearly 178 points in early afternoon trading.

The unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since the Fed began buying bonds in September 2012 and has reached 7 percent earlier than most analysts had expected.

In June, Chairman Ben Bernanke had suggested that the Fed would end its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases after the unemployment rate reached 7 percent. The Fed's bond purchases have been intended to keep borrowing rates low.

Bernanke later backed away from the 7 percent target. He cautioned that the Fed would weigh numerous economic factors in any decision it makes about its bond purchases. Many economists still think the Fed won't begin to cut back until January or later.

While the Fed weighs its options, U.S. employers may finally be gaining enough confidence in the economy, 4½ years after the recession officially ended, to ramp up hiring. In addition to the solid job gain and the drop in unemployment, Friday's report offered other encouraging signs:

— Higher-paying industries are adding more jobs. Manufacturers added 27,000 jobs, the most since March 2012. Construction companies added 17,000. The two industries have created a combined 113,000 jobs over the past four months.

— Hourly wages are up. The average rose 4 cents in November to $24.15. It's risen just 2 percent in the past year. But that's ahead of inflation: Consumer prices are up only 0.9 percent in that time.

— Employers are giving their workers more hours: The average work week rose to 34.5 hours from 34.4. A rule of thumb among economists is that a one-tenth hourly increase in the work week is equivalent to adding 300,000 jobs.

— Hiring was broad-based. In addition to higher-paying industries, retailers added 22,300 jobs, restaurants, bars and hotels 20,800. Education and health care added 40,000. And after years of cutbacks, state and local governments are hiring again. In November, governments at all levels combined added 7,000 jobs.

Still, the report contained some sour notes: Many Americans are still avoiding the job market, neither working nor looking for work. That's one reason the unemployment rate has fallen in recent months. The percentage of adults either working or searching for jobs remains near a 35-year low.

And America's long-term unemployed are still struggling. More than 4 million people have been out of work for six months or longer. That figure was essentially unchanged in November. By contrast, the number of people who have been unemployed for less than six months fell last month.

Among companies that are ramping up hiring is Eat24, which handles online restaurant deliveries. Eat24, based in San Francisco, expects this month to hire 10 to 15 salespeople, mobile application developers and data analysts, on top of its 150-person workforce.

"The economy is picking up a little bit," said Amir Eisenstein, the chief marketing officer. "In the last couple of years, the mobile market has boomed."

The steady decline in unemployment, from a high of 10 percent four years ago, is welcome news for the White House. But Jason Furman, President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, said the plight of the long-term unemployed points to the need to extend emergency unemployment benefits.

About 1.3 million people who've been out of work for six months or more will lose unemployment aid if a 5-year-old program to provide extra benefits expires on Dec. 28. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost of an extension at $25 billion. Some Republicans on the Hill have balked at the cost.

But on Thursday, House GOP leader John Boehner said he was willing to consider extending the program.

Friday's jobs report follows other positive news. The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.6 percent in the July-September quarter, the fastest growth since early 2012, though nearly half that gain came from businesses rebuilding stockpiles. Consumer spending grew at its slowest pace since late 2009.

But if hiring continues at its current pace, a virtuous cycle will start to build: More jobs typically lead to more pay, more spending and faster growth.

That said, more higher-paying jobs are needed to sustain the economy's momentum. Roughly half the jobs that were added in the six months through October were in four low-wage industries: retail; hotels, restaurants and entertainment; temp jobs; and home health care workers.

Consumers have been willing to spend on big-ticket items. Autos sold in November at their best pace in seven years, according to Autodata Corp. New-home sales in October bounced back from a summer downturn.

But early reports on holiday shopping have been disappointing. The National Retail Federation said sales during the Thanksgiving weekend — probably the most important stretch for retailers — fell for the first time since the group began keeping track in 2006.

Comments

Contango

"Economist Christina Romer regrets saying jobless rate would stay below 8 percent,"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp...

Volcker, Romer, Summers, Daley and other economic advisors - LONG GONE

Pres. Obama doesn't listen to much of anyone outside of his dominatrix, Valerie Jarrett.

coasterfan

Nothing occurs inside a vacuum. The Obama administration, perhaps foolishly, believed that House Republicans would actually paddle the boat in the right direction. That didn't happen.

Contango

Re: "The Obama administration, perhaps foolishly, believed"

So they believed their own "hope and change" nonsense? Not surprising.

So why'd the Dems not put forth a budget earlier in 2010 and risk an even greater trouncing that Nov.?

Darwin's choice

More lies from Obama jr.! nice try coasterfan, however, people are aware of the constant(monthly) spewing of crap from you and Obama. Keep trying to shine that spotlight away from Obamacare!

The Big Dog's back

Shine that light on Obamacare. People who are going to get it are happy as heck about it. So keep on shining that light.

Darwin's choice

"People who are going to get it are happy as heck about it"

Dog, I'm going to haunt you with that quote of yours in a few short months!!!

Nor'easter

Are you paying for it or claiming the welfare version?

fredinperkins

Could $8-10 per gallon of gas be in our future to subsidize/contribute/spread the wealth for that happy ray of shining light?

coasterfan

LOL. Actually, I don't mind anyone shining the light on Obamacare. The rollout stunk, but the law is going to work, and already is, now that they've finally taken steps to make the website work. 3 years from now, it'll be like Social Security and Medicare. Another highly successful federal program that conservatives initially opposed.

Your 2016 candidate is going to run on an anti-Obamacare platform which would promise to TAKE AWAY health care from 30 million people. Good luck with that.

Contango

Re: "3 years from now, it'll be like Social Security and Medicare."

With hundreds of trillions of dollars in projected unfunded liabilities and on the cusp of bankrupcy? Agreed.

Darwin's choice

So, is anyone making payments into this slush fund?

Contango

The ONLY figure that REALLY matters:

"The labor force participation rate changed little (63.0 percent) in November."

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/...

Nov. 1978 - 63.5%

Nov. 2013 - 63%

The U.S. labor force participation rate under Pres. Obama is WORSE than even during the disasterous Carter Admin. 35 yrs. ago.

Without the Fed Resv's cheap money and easy credit policies this economy would be in the sh*t can.

Nor'easter

Carter started the march toward NAFTA that Clinton signed in 1993 and there has been a continuous "Whooshing" as our jobs went overseas. There are consequences to bad legislation.

The Big Dog's back

Of course Raygun and bushie had nothing to do with it.

Dr. Information

Small news. U6 numbers are still staggering. Need that number to return to 10% or lower.

Also LFPR as pointed above is a solid number to look at.

Fromthe419

Obamabots can say "hip hip," but I'd hold off on the "hurray" until February when the seasonal hiring will be over and the lay offs begin. The only thing propping up this economy is the Fed with it's 85B per month stimulus and cheap money. Yes, things appear to be getting better, but it is smoke and mirrors. The "wealth effect" as Peter Schiff said back in 2006 is fake, it is not real wealth and can be destroyed with another bubble bursting. Any wealth that is gained with the stock market recent up-tick can be negated and the next crisis will be worse due to much more debt. Our economy almost collapsed in 2008 and we had 8T debt, now we have 17T debt so the consequences will be even worse. Coasterfan, I have one question for you...I agree that Bush was at fault for some of what happened, but what President repealed Glass-Stegall that prevented big banks from getting into speculating? Anyone that believes one party is at fault is either blind to what is going on or just ignorant.

Pete

Then the Libocrits need not push for extending unenjoyment nor raising the minimum wage correct?

Plenty of jobs now and improving one's earnings are a cake walk right?

Darwin's choice

Obama's latest speech...

http://msnvideo.msn.com/?channel...

mikesee

Seasonal! Wait til the holidays are over.

Sam

Median income dropped from 5 years ago, majority of non public sector jobs created were part-time and low wage service jobs, the most people in our history on welfare, more people who has stopped looking for employment and no longer counted. This is the Obama miracle, created with the largest federal deficient in history and increased by more than any other president..

Nor'easter

AMEN!

The Big Dog's back

So why aren't these business owners sharing their record profits with their employees?

Pete

They do. Just not with you parasites. We gave out great bonuses this year to those that earned them.

The Big Dog's back

So someone who works at least 40 hrs a week is a parasite in your world?

fredinperkins

Someone who WORKS is making a social/economic contribution.

Pete

Depends on their effort. Some just burn hours. Others put extra in effort.

You should know how that works. Whiners get zip.

The Big Dog's back

Ahhh yes, we have the right wingnut experts telling us it isn't so.

Sam

Ahhh yes, the far left loons still ignoring the facts.

The Big Dog's back

Opinion pieces are not FACTS!

Nor'easter

Go do the research. Figures don't lie, but Liars can figure.

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