Nonfarm employment increased by 146,000 jobs in November, a 0.2 percent drop from October figures. Although a small change, economists and industry experts were expecting a greater impact from Hurricane Sandy and the supply chain and business shutdowns it caused at the end of October. However, the number of long-term unemployed remained relatively unchanged, at 4.8 million, or 40.1 percent of all unemployed in the country. Long-term unemployed are those able to work who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.
Manufacturing employment was likewise relatively flat. Although motor vehicles/parts and wood products manufacturing added 10,000 and 3,000 new jobs, respectively, losses in food manufacturing (-12,000 jobs) and chemicals manufacturing (-9,000) meant that the sector has experienced little change since spring.
Further, nonfarm hourly earners have experienced a 1.2 percent wage increase over the past 12 months, including a 3-cent boost in November, to $19.84.
Reuters noted that the numbers for November are preliminary, and that both September and October initial jobs figures were later adjusted downward to “show 49,000 fewer jobs created than earlier reported,” although these losses were in government jobs.
Experts note that while the job market is remaining stable, uncertainty over the fiscal cliff and the European debt crisis could reverse the trend.
“Pent-up demand is forcing the housing market higher, pent-up demand is forcing the vehicle market higher. Consumer finances are very much improved,” David Kelly, JP Morgan Funds’s chief global strategist, told NBC News. “Everything is actually pretty primed here. It’s still a 2 percent economy but it has the potential to do more than that if we can reduce the amount of uncertainty in Washington.”