The American job market did it again: another big month of job gains and other statistical successes. How anyone can continue to insist that the economy is going in the wrong direction is beyond me. Thirty-five consecutive months is, apparently, not enough proof.
Job market surpasses expectations – again.
One of the amusing parts of my job as an independent career coach and job market observer comes at 8:30 on the first Friday morning of each month, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly jobs report, especially during these last three years. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the report itself that’s fun – I’m not a numbers wonk – it’s all the news reporting that splatters across screens (TVs, PCs, phones) seemingly by 8:31, inevitably containing predictable words and phrases like unexpected, more than expected, surpassing, and others, indicating the futility of the experts’ predictions and projections.
They were wrong again. November’s numbers are terrific. To follow the previous 34 months of exceptional – make that historic – job gains with a gain of 199,000 is eye-opening but it shouldn’t be surprising. Not if you look at the job market from the big picture vantage point. Job markets should never be looked at a month at a time. A job market is a continuum. Ours certainly is, with more than 14,000,000 jobs created since January 2021. What’s impressive is that there hasn’t been one month that was a letdown. Yet most of the people who call themselves experts are still surprised.
Lots of job gains, lower unemployment, more people working
While all these jobs were being created, the unemployment rate fell to 3.7% from 3.9%,aking Novem mber the 22nd straight month under 4.0%. This drop, after a slow creep up from 3.4% in April tells me that the masses of people re-entering the workforce in the last few months had their confidence rewarded by landing jobs at a faster rate than other people were re-entering. That’s what I mean by looking at the job market as a continuum.
And – let’s hear it again – the economy is headed in the wrong direction, is it?
Further, while not all sectors gained jobs, the ones that did, did it big: health care at 77K, government at 49K, leisure and hospitality at 40K, manufacturing at 28K, and social assistance at 10K.
BLS’s Employment Situation Summary also shows other rich lodes. For instance, 532,000 people entered or re-entered the civilian labor force – an unusually high monthly number – while 747,000 more Americans are employed and 215,000 fewer are unemployed than the month before – numbers that are not only unusually large, but ones that rarely happen in tandem with so many entrants.
Wages continue rising, exceeding inflation
And then there’s the eternal question about wages. Average hourly earnings rose by 0.4% in November and by 4.0% over the last 12 months, outpacing inflation again.
And the economy is headed where, again? This is a job market observer’s delight – and it has been for three years with no sign of letting up.