November jobs report: the “least positive” report since April

November jobs report: the “least positive” report since April


  • 245,000 million jobs gained. The gains since May total about 55% of the 22.1 million job losses in March and April. The alternate and more volatile measure in the household report indicated a loss of -74,000 jobs, which factors into the unemployment and underemployment rates below.
  • U3 unemployment rate fell -0.2% from 6.9% to 6.7%, compared with the January low of 3.5%.
  • U6 underemployment rate fell -0.1% from 12.1% to 12.0%, compared with the January low of 6.9%.
  • Those on temporary layoff decreased -441,000 to 2,764,,000.
  • Permanent job losers increased by 59,000 to 3,743,000.
  • September was revised upward by 39,000. October was revised downward by -28,000 respectively, for a net gain of 11,000 jobs compared with previous reports.

Leading employment indicators of a slowdown or recession

I am still highlighting these because of their leading nature for the economy overall.  These were generally positive: 

  • the average manufacturing workweek declined -0.2 hours from 40.5 hours to 40.3 hours. This is one of the 10 components of the LEI and will be a negative.
  • Manufacturing jobs increased by 27,000. Manufacturing has still lost -599,000  jobs in the past 9 months, or -4.7% of the total. About 55% of the total loss of 10.6% has been regained.
  • Construction jobs increased by 27,000. Even so, in the past 9 months -279,000 construction jobs have been lost, -3.7% of the total. About 75% of the worst loss of 15.2% loss has been regained.
  • Residential construction jobs, which are even more leading, rose by 1,300. In the past 9 months there have still been 6,100 lost jobs, or about -0.7% of the total.
  • temporary jobs rose by 32,200. Since February, there have still been -293,200 jobs lost, or -10% of all temporary help jobs.
  • the number of people unemployed for 5 weeks or less fell by -33,000 to  million, compared with April’s total of 14.283 million.
  • Professional and business employment rose by 60,000, which is still -1,061,000, or about -5.0% below its February peak.

Wages of non-managerial workers

  • Average Hourly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: rose $0.07 from $24.80 to $24.87, which is a gain of 3.8% in the 9 months since the pandemic began. Gains had previously reflected that job losses were primarily among lower wage earners, who have been disproportionately recalled to work. That we have increased employment and increased wages as well is a very positive development.

Aggregate hours and wages:

  • the index of aggregate hours worked for non-managerial workers rose by 0.3%. In the past 9 months combined this has nevertheless fallen by about -6.0%.
  •  the index of aggregate payrolls for non-managerial workers rose by 0.6%. In the past 9 months combined this has nevertheless fallen by about -2.4%. About 85% of the loss from February to April has been made back up.

Other significant data:

  • Full time jobs gained 752,000 in the household report.
  • Part time jobs declined -779,000 in the household report.
  • The number of job holders who were part time for economic reasons decreased by -23,000 to 6.660 million. This is still an increase since February of 2,342,000.

This was a mixed report. Most of the headlines were positive, but there were several important internal weaknesses. Most importantly, permanent layoffs increased, and the manufacturing workweek declined. This is a warning that the manufacturing surge may be ebbing, while temporary job losses are metastasizing into permanent ones. The headline number of job gains was by far the least positive of any gains since April.
On the other hand, all of the other leading job categories showed increases in employment. Additionally, both average and aggregate hours and payrolls continued to increase pretty strongly. Aggregate payrolls are back where they were a year ago (of course, inflation has eaten away at some of that rebound).
The overall tone remained positive – but the “least positive” of the last 6 months.
UPDATE:  One thing I neglected to mention was that there were -99,000 government job losses. Without those, the gain in employment would have been 344,000. Better, but still the “least positive” number since April.