The final jobs report of the year indicates an economy entering 2016 solidly, which should help cut the unemployment rate further.
Employers added 211,000 jobs in November and unemployment held steady at 5 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.
The government also announced a revision to the October employment numbers and reported hiring gains across most sectors. October’s 271,000 number was revised upward, to 298,000. It means there is momentum in the jobs market entering the new year.
The healthcare sector added almost 24,000 jobs, and retailers gearing up for the holidays added almost 31,000. The white-collar professional and business-services sector gained 27,000. Leisure and hospitality, which indicates the weekend spending of consumers and stepped-up business travel, added 39,000 jobs last month.
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Leading all sectors was construction. Its recovery, tied to housing, has lagged behind most other parts of the economy and now seems to be hitting stride with 46,000 new jobs in November.
The only real laggards last month were the manufacturing sector, hammered by the strong U.S. dollar (which makes U.S. goods more expensive) and mining. Oil field work is classified under mining, and the collapse in energy prices has resulted in a large number of layoffs. The mining sector lost 11,300 jobs in November, while manufacturing cut 1,000 posts.
The party holding the White House tends to benefit when the economy is strong. Hiring is solid and accelerating as the nation readies to elect a new president.
Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, highlighted wage growth and job creation.
“Our businesses have now added 13.7 million jobs over 69 straight months, extending the longest streak on record,” Furman wrote on his White House blog.
Republicans who were quick to pounce on past bad job reports offered more subdued criticism in their read of the November report.
“The labor force participation rate remains near a 38-year low, and millions of workers in their prime earning years are either out of work or underemployed,” said Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., chairman of the congressional Joint Economic Committee.
Two solid months of hiring gives the Federal Reserve room later this month to raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time in almost a decade. The action, expected Dec. 16, is called “liftoff” because it would begin a slow years-long upward climb in lending rates across the economy.
The federal funds rate influences the cost for borrowers of taking out longer-term loans for homes, cars or college tuition. This benchmark rate has been near zero since December 2008, during the recession.
Higher rates would mean the Fed considers the economy strong enough to absorb higher borrowing costs.
National jobs report
Construction, up 46,000
Leisure and hospitality, up 39,000
Retail, up 30,700
Professional and business services, up 27,000
Healthcare, up 23,800
Financial services, up 14,000
Government jobs, up 14,000
Transportation and warehousing, up 6,400
Manufacturing, down 1,000
Temporary help services, down 12,300