U.S. employers added 266,000 nonfarm payrolls in November, shattering expectations for jobs growth around 180,000 and a dramatic improvement from October, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported this morning. The conclusion of the GM strike brought back manufacturing jobs, but BLS notes notable gains also occurred in health care and in professional and technical services. Adding to the positive employment situation, BLS revised September payrolls 13,000 jobs higher to 193,000 and it raised October payrolls by 28,000 to 156,000. The impressive showing flies in the face of those warning about a slowing economy. The data could also embolden the Trump administration in trade negotiations with China.
The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5%, whereas most analysts expected that rate to hold steady with October at 3.6%. This matches the lowest jobless rate since 1969. The labor force participation rate edged 0.1 point lower to 63.2%.
Also encouraging, average hourly earnings for private nonfarm payrolls climbed 7 cents to $28.29. Wage growth over the past year is still only 3.1%, despite near full employment. Employers have been using non-wage actions to attract and retain workers.