12.06.2013 News Releases, Policy Points

Positive And Negative Trends In Nov. Jobs Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC (December 6, 2013) – The national labor market added in November 203,000 more jobs than it lost. While the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons fell over the month, a large portion of that decline was attributable of the return to work of furloughed federal.

Last month, 10.9 million Americans were unemployed, while 7.7 million individuals worked part time despite preferring full-time positions. Another 762,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about their job prospects that they had stopped searching for work altogether.

“November marked the 38th-straight month of job growth recorded in the United States,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the past year, the national economy netted an average of 191,000 jobs per month, and the pace of growth has accelerated over the past three months. Nevertheless, the country is still 7.9 million jobs short of the number needed both to replace the jobs lost since 2007 and to accommodate the subsequent growth in the size of the labor force.”

In November, the nation’s employers added 203,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred overwhelmingly in the private sector (+196,000), while government employers added 7,000 more positions than they eliminated, due to hiring by state and local governments. Furthermore, the payroll employment numbers for September and October underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy netted 375,000 jobs over those two months, not the 367,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+60,000, with 37.2 percent of the gains occurring in the retail trade subsector), followed by the education and health services sector (+40,000, with 71 percent of the gain occurring in the health care field), the professional and business services sector (+35,000, with 42 percent of the gain occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector), and the manufacturing sector (+27,000). Payroll levels in all other major sectors either rose or were essentially unchanged from October.

“Since last November, the American economy has gained 2.3 million more payroll positions that it has lost,” noted Quinterno. “While the rate of growth has accelerated in recent months, the average monthly rate of job growth over the past year—some 191,000 positions per month—not close the nation’s sizable jobs gap anytime soon.”

Labor market conditions as measured by the household survey also improved in November, although the return to work of furloughed federal employees influenced the results. Last month, 10.9 million Americans (7 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. Both the unemployment rate and the total number of unemployed persons were lower than in the prior month. In November, the share of the population participating in the labor force essentially was unchanged at 63 percent, a rate lower than the one posted a year ago.

On a positive note, more Americans were working in November compared to a year earlier, and fewer persons were unemployed. At the same time, the share of the working-age population with a job (58.6 percent) remained near the lowest figure recorded during the current business cycle.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (6.7 percent versus 6.2 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (12.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (8.7 percent) than among white ones (6.2 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 20.8 percent. Moreover, 6.7 percent of all veterans were unemployed, and the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 9.9 percent. At the same time, 12.3 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained comparatively hard to find in November. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 13.2 percent, down from the 14.4 percent rate logged a year ago. Not only were 10.9 million Americans unemployed, but 7.7 million individuals worked part-time jobs despite preferring full-time work. Another 762,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about the labor market that they had stopped searching for work.

Among unemployed workers, 37.3 percent had been jobless for at least six months, and the average spell of unemployment equaled 37.2 weeks.

In November, the leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 53.1 percent of unemployed persons. Another 28.1 percent of unemployed persons were re-entrants to the labor market, while 10.6 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8.2 percent of the total.

“The November employment report points to a labor market that is improving in some crucial aspects yet underperforming in others,” observed Quinterno. “Last month, job growth accelerated and underemployment fell. Nevertheless, the American economy still is not generating enough jobs for all those who want and need work, and a tremendous amount of potential labor is going unused. The United States’ jobs crisis remains far from over. ”

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