National unemployment rate down in November

Nation added 245,000 jobs last month

Employers are slowly adding workers, with the nation adding nearly 250,000 non-farm jobs in November, the government said.

But the pace of hiring is slow. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 245,000 last month, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7%, down slightly from 6.9% in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

“These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said. “However, the pace of improvement in the labor market has moderated in recent months.”

The labor market has won back about half of the 22 million jobs lost since mid-March.

Labor force participation is also down (to 61.5%), with average hourly earnings up 9 cents.

“The addition of 245,000 new jobs was the slowest since the COVID Recession began, reflecting a struggling labor market,” said Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University. “And, the topline number of jobs was the best part of the report. The labor force shrunk by 400,000 jobs, signaling an unhealthy balance between job creation and labor market participation.”

It’s possible next month’s jobs report will reflect the recent resurgence in COVID cases and hospitalizations.

“Worse still, these data were collected in early November, when COVID cases were much fewer than they will be next week when the survey is conducted for the December jobs report,” Hicks said.

More than 300,000 Ohioans could lose federal unemployment compensation benefits the day after Christmas if Congress does not extend those benefits, a researcher with Ohio think tank Policy Matters Ohio noted Friday.

“No one should have to spend the holidays worried about keeping a roof over their heads,” said Zach Schiller, Policy Matters research director. “But a grim holiday season awaits hundreds of thousands of Ohioans unless Congress extends unemployment benefits beyond Dec. 26. Legislation earlier this year created several new programs to cushion the effects of the pandemic recession, programs that were extraordinarily effective in doing just that. However, now Congress must act to continue them, as well as reinstating the $600 a week supplement that expired in July.”

Most job gains last month happened in transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, with health care. Government and retail sectors saw job losses.

The latest rate is down by 8% from its COVID-19-induced high in April — but the November rate is also 3.2% higher than it was in February.

The number of unemployed people, at 10.7 million, continued to trend down in November but is 4.9 million higher than in February, the government said.

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