Friday, December 04, 2009
The Labor Department reported that U.S. employers cut only 11,000 jobs in November, the smallest decline since the recession began in December of 2007, and the unemployment rate fell modestly from 10.2 percent to 10.0 percent.
Job losses for prior months saw substantial positive revisions. The loss of 219,000 positions originally reported for the month of September improved to -139,000 and the October decline of 190,000 jobs was revised to -111,000.
The unemployment rate improved from the 26-year low reported in October and even the broader measure of "underemployment" - including discouraged workers and those settling for part-time work instead of full-time - was better, falling from last month's all-time high of 17.5 percent to 17.2 percent.
The average work week rose from a record low of 33.0 hours to 33.2 hours and average hourly earnings increased, all signs that employers are getting more out of current employees before hiring new ones.
Temporary jobs within the Professional and Business Services category were the driving force behind the better-than-expected headline nonfarm payrolls number, temporary help accounting for 52,400 of the overall increase of 86,000 for this category. And, as usual, the health care and education sectors added jobs, some 40,000 last month.
Elsewhere, job losses continued, Manufacturing down 41,000, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities down 34,000, and Construction down 27,000. Within the trade category, retail employment fell by 14,500, not a positive sign for a recovery in consumer spending.
One of the better indicators of the state of mind of your typical American consumer is their willingness to eat out and, hence, changes to employment in the food service sector. Here too, the news was not good as almost 4,000 fewer workers were found in the food services and drinking establishment subcategory.