Jobless rate drops to 4.6% in November, lowest mark since a year before the crash

WASHINGTON—The U.S. unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent in November to 4.6 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. It was the lowest jobless rate since a year before the Great Recession began. Businesses claimed to create a net of 156,000 jobs, while governments added 22,000 jobs. Most were in local governments, not including schools.

Some 7.4 million people were jobless in November, down 387,000 from the month before. That’s the lowest figure since November 2007, when 7.24 million were out of work. The jobless rate that month was 4.7 percent. But a top analyst said not all was good news.

“The economy is still recovering” because “wage growth is still below target,” explained Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould. BLS said average hourly earnings for all workers actually shrank by three cents in November, though they rose by two cents for private-sector non-supervisory workers.

EPI also noted African-American joblessness dropped slightly, but is still much higher (8.1 percent) than the rates for whites (4.2 percent) and Hispanic-Americans (5.7 percent).

Meanwhile, BLS said 95.06 million work-eligible people not were in the labor force ion November, a rise of 446,000 in one month and 871,000 in two months. And one of every 11 workers (9.3 percent) was unemployed, underemployed or so discouraged they stopped seeking work.

Construction firms claimed to add 19,000 jobs in November, at specialty trade contractors (+15,500) and housing contractors (+5,200). Civil and heavy engineering dropped. That

left 6.704 million construction workers on the job and 517,000 jobless (5.7 percent). But construction union leaders say BLS data understates joblessness in their sector, since a worker toiling for one day during the BLS survey week is counted as on the job for the whole month.

Factories said they shed 4,000 jobs in November, down to 12.26 million, with the big loss in machinery (-3,900). There were 619,000 jobless factory workers (3.9 percent).

As usual, the lowest-paying areas of the service sector led the way in claiming to create jobs. Overall, service firms said they created 139,000 net new jobs in November. They included 14,300 new temps, 28,400 new jobs in health care and 18,900 new jobs in bars and restaurants.

That’s also the lowest-paid sector of the economy, at $13.01 per hour, up three cents from the month before – but still two dollars below the “$15 and a union” campaign that, once again, brought hundreds of thousands of fast-food workers into the streets on Nov. 29.

Besides the 14,000 net new jobs in local governments, states claimed to add 5,000 jobs in November. Federal agencies said they added 3,000 jobs, while the Postal Service lost 100.

Source: PAI