Unemployment rises to 9.8%, only 39,000 jobs gained

The unemployment rate edged closer to double digits in November according to the new release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, moving up two tenths of a point to 9.8%.  The private sector showed disappointing results, gaining only 39,000 jobs after a report yesterday from ADP suggested much higher gains.  A drop in retail employment suggests an ominous trend for this holiday season:

The unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent in November, and nonfarm payroll employment was little changed (+39,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Temporary help services and health care continued to add jobs over the month, while employment fell in retail trade. Employment in most major industries changed little in November. …

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs rose by 390,000 to 9.5 million in November. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 6.3 million and accounted for 41.9 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)

The civilian labor force participation rate held at 64.5 percent in November, and the employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 58.2 percent. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed over the month at 9.0 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in November, up from 2.3 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 1.3 million discouraged workers in November, an increase of 421,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Department stores lost 9,000 jobs, and furniture and home furnishings stores lost 5,000.  The latter may be part of the fallout from poor performance in home sales as well as weakness in retail sales.  Manufacturing dropped 13,000 jobs.  Wage growth was also flat in November across the board.

The increase in the overall rate appears linked directly to job losses rather than a return to the workforce of discouraged workers.  Those numbers have actually increased slightly year on year.  When they begin entering the workforce again, the overall rate will rise even higher, even if the overall job creation numbers improve.  That isn’t what happened in November.

Update: Reuters reports that the numbers were, well ….

U.S. employment increased far less than expected in November and the jobless rate jumped to a seven-month high of 9.8 percent, dampening hopes for a self-sustaining economic recovery.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 39,000, with private hiring gaining only 50,000, the Labor Department said. However, overall employment for September and October was revised to show 38,000 more jobs than previously estimated.

Economists had expected payrolls to increase 140,000 last month and the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 9.6 percent.

To be fair, I also expected similar numbers after seeing the ADP report yesterday; I was thinking closer to +150K and 9.6%.  Also, I changed the headline for accuracy, as overall employment increased by 39,000 jobs, but the private sector added 50,000; the difference came in reductions in government jobs.

Jazz Shaw Dec 01, 2021 11:01 AM ET