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US jobs data reflects steady growth

Washington, December 8, 2012

US employers hired more workers than expected in November, with the labour market showing little apparent impact from Superstorm Sandy and jobs growth remaining on a steady but slow path.

At the same time, the jobless rate fell to a near four-year low, but that was only because so many Americans gave up the hunt for work, tempering the surprising news on jobs growth.

A big plunge in consumer confidence in December also offered a cautionary note on the economy's health.

Non-farm employment increased by 146,000 jobs last month after rising by 138,000 in October, the Labour Department said yesterday, defying expectations of a sharp pullback related to Sandy.

The government said the storm, which slammed the densely populated East Coast in late October, did not have a substantive impact on last month's employment estimates.

November's job gains were in line with the trend that has prevailed all year. Job growth has averaged 151,000 per month since January, just enough to push the jobless rate lower, but only slowly. Economists say roughly 200,000-250,000 jobs per month are normally needed to really make headway.

The 0.2 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate last month to 7.7 per cent - the lowest since December 2008 - reflected a decrease in the size of the labour force as measured by a survey of households. Economists generally rely more heavily on the payrolls reading from the separate and much larger survey of employers.

While job gains for both September and October were revised to show 49,000 fewer jobs created than earlier reported, the revision was concentrated in the government sector.

Private sector job growth did slow in November to 147,000 from 189,000 in October, but economists were heartened it did not drop off more in light of the storm.

All of the jobs gains in November were in the private sector, with government employment slipping 1,000.

Within the vast private services sector, retail employment gained 52,600 and professional and businesses services increased 43,000. Temporary help hiring increased 18,000.

In the goods-producing sector, manufacturing employment fell 7,000. Construction payrolls dropped 20,000, despite a surge in homebuilding, which is benefiting from the Fed's accommodative policy stance. – TradeArabia News Service




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