The economy added 312,000 new jobs in November, according to the monthly jobs report released Friday by the Labor Department. Economists had expected a monthly gain of 253,000 jobs. It was the largest gain in jobs since January 2012.
The strong jobs gain, including upward revisions to previous months, suggests it is likely the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates in 2015.
The unemployment rate remained at 5.8%. Last year, the unemployment rate stood at 7%. The “U-6” unemployment rate, which is a broader measure of the labor market, slipped slightly to 11.5%. November’s report is the 10 straight month that the economy has added more than 200,000 jobs. Gains were spread across all industries. Retail trade, which normally increases employment ahead of the Christmas shopping season, added 50,000 jobs in November.
The report was widely seen as good news and another sign of an expanding economy. This sentiment says more about our current expectations for economic growth than the specific job growth number. The labor-force participation rate, the number of adults working or actively looking for work, remained steady at 62.8%. This is slightly lower than last year. Since November 2013, the economy has added 2.8 million jobs, but the adult population of the US has grown by 2.3 million.
In other words, the economy is doing a little bit better than standing still. As it enters the 6th year of recovery from the 2007-2009 recession, the economy is still struggling to post the job growth necessary to reduce the ranks of the long-term unemployed. With the Fed set to end its loose monetary policy, it may never get that chance.