Especially Strong Hiring Seen in November

By Toni Vranjes

December 5, 2014

The pace of hiring sped up in November, leading to a major surprise in the employment picture.

Employers created 321,000 jobs last month, compared to 243,000 in October, the Labor Department reported today. The November figure dramatically beat economists’ expectations. IHS Global Insight had predicted 258,000 new jobs, and the consensus estimate was 225,000.

The unemployment rate stayed at 5.8 percent, while the labor force increased by 119,000.

The report delivered a lot of good news. For instance, the employment gains were spread among many different industries. In November, professional and business services added 86,000 jobs, and retail trade increased by 50,000. Gains also occurred in health care, manufacturing, food and drinking establishments, financial activities, construction, and transportation and warehousing.

Although some of the employment growth was caused by strong seasonal hiring, that wasn’t the only factor driving the growth, economist Doug Handler wrote in a commentary.

“The gains are not just from extra seasonal workers and restaurant staff, although the report shows the importance of holiday sales to overall growth,” wrote Handler, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight. “Construction and manufacturing jobs were up, as were jobs in business services and healthcare.”

The report also included positive news on another front. In November, average hourly earnings increased by 9 cents — which Handler described as the best gain since January 2011.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department revised job gains upward for the two previous months. For September and October combined, the economy added 44,000 more jobs than previously reported.

On the White House blog, economist Jason Furman emphasized the increasing pace of job growth. In 2014, monthly employment gains have averaged 241,000 so far, wrote Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. That compares to 194,000 per month last year.

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