Employment Summary for November 2012 According to the Labor Department, 146,000 jobs were created in November while the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 7.9 to 7.7 percent. While the number of jobs added exceeded the consensus economist estimate of 86,000, the fall in unemployment was largely triggered by a decreased participation rate rather than the growth of employment. The participation rate fell .2 percent with the number of discourage workers grew by 166,000. While job growth is still modest, there are indications that the quality of those jobs is improving. The number of people working part time for economic reasons fell 168,000, as those people presumably began working full time. The decline in the participation rate dampens the positive news of a falling unemployment rate, yet the report doesn’t show any sign of the employment market sliding back. Almost across the board, most industries saw some growth and very few saw declines. Where there were declines, like construction (-20,000) and food manufacturing (-12,300), there is even reason to suspect not an economic influence, but rather continued fallout from the storm which devastated much of the East coast in late October.
While there was a decline in the participation rate on the whole in the U.S., among those with a bachelor’s degree the participation rate in November actually went up by .2 percent as 119,000 such workers found employment during the month. Because of the rise in participation, the unemployment rate of those with a bachelor’s degree, 3.8 percent, was unchanged in November but was down from 4.4 percent a year ago. The participation rate fell by .6 percent for those with less than four years of college, and .7 percent for those with no college, but a high school degree. The management, professional and related occupations unemployment rate is currently down to 3.6 percent from 4.2 percent a year earlier. The sales and office occupations unemployment rate is down from 8.2 percent a year ago to 7.2 percent in November. The holidays tend to muddle unemployment statistics with high retail hiring and would be job seekers easily discouraged from job hunting during the holiday season. But with strong headwinds—but literally and figuratively— November’s employment seemed to hold its own. Yet, while we have grown used to seeing strong end of the year numbers, labor market observers will be holding their breath going into January to see the rate of employment gain can continue, or even grow during the first quarter.
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