November Adds 146,000 Jobs

by Patrick Brennan

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary estimate finds that the U.S. economy added 146,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent. Interestingly, both the September and October numbers were revised down (from 148,000 to 132,000 and from 171,000 to 138,000, respectively), casting some doubt on the theory that the economy was actually stronger going into the election for President Obama than headline numbers had suggested (Q3 GDP, for instance, was actually 2.7 percent, not the preliminary 2 percent). Hours worked and wages ticked up, but only ever so slightly.

The BLS also claims that “our analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November.”

The labor-force-participation rate dropped 0.2 percentage points, undoing its rise in October. Much of the gains came in retail services and health care, and perhaps surprisingly, construction employment dropped by 20,000 in the past month, despite what we’ve heard about “green shoots” in housing. Manufacturing employment dropped by 7,000; the president’s manufacturing plan, apparently, remains in the assembly stage.

In total, the report is not deeply disappointing, but nor is it encouraging — over the past few months, there have been some indicators, especially in housing, that the U.S. economy was beginning to experience a real recovery. This is not one of them.