The U.S. economy added 210,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, far lower than the Dow Jones estimate of 573,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent, exceeding experts’ 4.5 percent prediction.
Leisure and hospitality added just 23,000 jobs last month after accounting for a significant amount of job growth for much of the economy’s recovery.
The report is based on surveys taken before the first cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant were detected in South Africa, but the report comes amid heightened concern that the new variant could potentially further delay the economy’s recovery.
The U.S. has recovered roughly 82 percent of the jobs lost during the pandemic. While more than half a million people rejoined the workforce last month, 2.4 million others who left the workforce at the start of the pandemic have not yet returned.
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told a Senate Committee this week that there is “tremendous uncertainty” around why there has not been a “significant increase in labor supply” as many predicted. He said a “big part of it is clearly linked to the ongoing pandemic.”
Employers are still contending with labor shortages. Powell warned that an ongoing shortage of workers could serve to worsen supply-chain issues that have resulted in a number of empty shelves in stores nationwide as inflation has risen to its highest level in more than three decades.