US unemployment rate falls to 8.6 per cent, payrolls up 120,000 | FT Alphaville

US unemployment rate falls to 8.6 per cent, payrolls up 120,000

Consensus expectations were for 9 per cent and 125,000.

But don’t be deceived by the eye-catching drop in the unemployment rate: this report was good but not great.

The fall in the unemployment rate, which comes from the household survey, was the result of a declining labour force and a decent gain in total employment. The labour force participation rate fell from 64.2 to 64 per cent, and the employment-population ratio ticked up a bit from 58.4 to 58.5. Not bad, but not nearly as exciting as the decline in the overall rate would suggest.

As for the establishment survey, payrolls roughly met expectations by climbing 120,000 last month. The best news in the report was probably the big revision to the September number, whose first release showed growth of 103,000. That’s now been revised to 210,000. The October number was revised from 80,000 to 100,000.

Once again the private sector did all the work (so to speak) with jobs growth of 140,000, and once again government jobs declined.

Further coverage during US Markets Live at 10am EST; see you then.

Update: Here’s the full report, also copied below…


The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent in November, and nonfarm payroll employment rose by 120,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued to trend up in retail trade, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care. Government employment continued to trend down.

Household Survey Data

In November, the unemployment rate declined by 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent. From April through October, the rate held in a narrow range from 9.0 to 9.2 percent. The number of unemployed persons, at 13.3 million, was down by 594,000 in November. The labor force, which is the sum of the unemployed and employed, was down by a little more than half that amount. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men fell by 0.5 percentage point to 8.3 percent in November. The jobless rate for whites (7.6 percent) also declined, while the rates for adult women (7.8 percent), teenagers (23.7 percent), blacks (15.5 percent), and Hispanics (11.4 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

In November, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs declined by 432,000 to 7.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted for 43.0 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)

The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 64.0 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) dropped by 378,000 over the month to 8.5 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In November, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about the same as a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in November, a decrease of 186,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 120,000 in November, in line with the average gain for the prior 12 months (+131,000). The private sector added 140,000 jobs, as employment rose in a number of service-providing industries. Government employment continued to trend down. (See table B-1.)

Employment in retail trade rose by 50,000 in November, with much of the increase occurring in clothing and clothing accessories stores (+27,000) and in electronics and appliance stores (+5,000). Since reaching an employment trough in December 2009, retailers have added an average of 14,000 jobs per month.

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in November (+22,000). Within the industry, food services and drinking places added 33,000 jobs. This gain more than offset a loss of 12,000 jobs in the accommodation industry. In the last 12 months, leisure and hospitality added 253,000 jobs, largely driven by employment increases in food services and drinking places.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in November (+33,000). Modest job gains continued in temporary help services.

Health care employment continued to rise in November (+17,000). Within the industry, hospitals added 9,000 jobs. Over the past 12 months, health care has added an average of 27,000 jobs per month.

Manufacturing employment changed little over the month and has remained essentially unchanged since July. In November, fabricated metal products added 8,000 jobs, while electronic instruments lost 2,000 jobs.

Construction employment showed little movement in November. Employment in the industry has shown little change, on net, since early 2010.

Government employment continued to trend down in November, with a decline in the U.S. Postal Service (-5,000). Employment in both state government and local government has been trending down since the second half of 2008.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in November. The manufacturing workweek was down by 0.2 hour to 40.3 hours, offsetting a 0.2 hour gain in the previous month. Factory overtime remained at 3.2 hours in November. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased in November by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $23.18. This decline followed a gain of 7 cents in October. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.8 percent. In November, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $19.54. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised from +158,000 to +210,000, and the change for October was revised from +80,000 to +100,000.

Related link:
Non-farm payrolls climbed 80k in October, unemployment falls to 9 per cent – FT Alphaville