Vigorous US job creation continues in November

Despite surge, report shows signs job engine has cooled in recent months

Afp December 10, 2017
Manufacturers added 31,000 jobs in November 2017, continuing the steady increase of the past seven years, and pushing the total to its highest level since January 2009. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: The US economy continued to see robust job creation in November, with strong gains in manufacturing, health care and construction, the government reported Friday.

The result showed employers were still eager to fill openings even as the world’s largest economy approaches full employment but wage growth remained disappointing.

While the White House hailed the news, crediting President Donald Trump’s “bold economic vision,” the report showed some signs the US jobs engine has cooled in recent months as companies are beginning to exhaust the supply of available workers.

The latest surge in employment also was sure to help push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next week at its final meeting of the year, as markets overwhelmingly expect.

Already at dizzying heights, Wall Street rose higher yet on the news, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posting record closes.

Employers added 228,000 new positions last month compared to October, far more than economists expected, while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. Revisions to the prior two months added just 3,000 more jobs than previously reported.

The increase was slower than October’s 244,000 gain, and so far this year job creation is down from 2016.

Average job creation so far in 2017 has fallen to 174,000 a month from 187,000 last year. And over the last three months, the average has slowed even further to 170,000.

In addition, average hourly earnings rose only 0.2% for the month to $26.55, a weaker increase than expected. Earnings are up 2.5% over the last 12 months, keeping wages a little ahead of inflation.

Trump has vowed to add 25 million new jobs over a decade, in large part by revitalizing manufacturing sector while enacting a pro-growth agenda of tax cuts, slashed regulation and aggressive trade policies.

However, economists say that target is unrealistic in an economy at full employment with an ageing work force.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2017.

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