Economy adds 228K jobs in November

Economy adds 228K jobs in November

The U.S. labor market maintained steady growth in November, which was better than expectations, with Congress on the cusp of passing the first massive tax package in decades.

Employers added 228,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent, the lowest level since December 2000, when it was 3.9 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Hiring of 244,000 in October reflected a rebound after hurricanes Harvey and Irma slammed into the Gulf Coast late in the summer, but was 17,000 less than the 261,000 initially reported. 

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September’s figures, after being reported in the negative following the storms, rose to 38,000, up from 18,000.

November’s growth brings the 11-month total to about 1.91 million jobs this year.

“The jobs market remains splendidly, relentlessly dull,” said Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan. 

“Month after month, year after year, we're recording roughly 150,000 to 200,000 extra jobs each month,” Wolfers said on Twitter. “This month is no exception.”

November’s growth brings the 11-month total to more 1.9 million jobs this year.

December will need to post another solid number or the labor market expansion will fall short of the 2.24 million jobs in 2016, President Obama’s last full year in office.

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Employment growth has averaged 174,000 per month thus far this year, compared with an average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate will start in earnest next week to reconcile their tax bills in a bipartisan conference.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradySupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress House fires back at Trump by passing ObamaCare expansion Congress set for fight over expiring unemployment relief MORE (R-Texas) said that as Republicans move forward on the tax bill, "I am confident that our economy will continue to improve."

"In the days ahead, the House and Senate will finalize legislation that will help our workers find good-paying jobs, help our businesses compete and win here at home and around the world, and help our families keep more of their hard-earned money for what matters most to them,” Brady said.

Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, said that “given the potential impacts of the tax bill and the already established momentum of the economy, accelerating in recent months, there may well be a price to be paid in the form of rising interest rates at the hand of the Federal Reserve.” 

“The central bank has been eager to continue along the path of normalization and the case is made all the more pressing with the rise in stock and home prices,” Hamrick said. 

“Even so, consumers and businesses have almost been lulled into virtual complacency by prolonged low-interest rates.”

The Fed is expected to raise interest rates this month.

In November, manufacturing added 31,000 jobs and a total of 189,000 jobs since hitting a recent employment low in November 2016.

Construction posted job gains of 24,000 and a total of 132,000 for the year.

After revisions, job gains have averaged 170,000 over the last three months.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Trump confirms 2018 US cyberattack on Russian troll farm Trump tweets his support for Goya Foods amid boycott MORE this week touted policies of his administration for lowering unemployment, saying he thinks the jobless rate will continue to drop.

As a presidential candidate, Trump called the jobs number fake and said the unemployment rate was much higher than reported during the Obama administration.

Earlier this year, though, he said through his then-press secretary Sean Spicer that while the jobs numbers “may have been phony in the past, it’s very real now.”

The U.S. economy grew at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the fastest pace in three years, the Commerce Department said last week.

Trump on Wednesday said that he wants to see growth “getting up to 4, 5 and even 6 percent — because I think that's possible.”

“If you look back in your notes, you'll say when I said 4 percent, people said that would be years,” he said. “Well, it's turned out that I'm right because without the hurricanes this last quarter, we would have hit 4 percent."

Economists are forecasting yearly growth of 2.3 percent for 2017 and 2.7 percent in 2018.

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“The key puzzle remains: With unemployment this low, why aren't we seeing faster nominal wage growth? Suggests that the economy still has room to run without igniting inflation,” Wolfers said. 

Wage growth is up 2.5 percent for the year but still running behind expectations, especially with the labor market tightening.

Hamrick said wage growth is likely headed closer to 3 percent next year "as long as the economy continues to expand and no dramatic black swans emerge."

This report was updated at 10:45 a.m.