The U.S. economy added only 210,000 jobs in November, however, the national unemployment rate fell nearly a half percentage point to 4.2%, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Friday.
Notable job gains occurred in professional and business services (+90,000), transportation and warehousing (+50,000), construction (+31,000), and manufacturing (+31,000). Leisure and hospitality, the sector hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, had a particularly slow month, gaining back only 23,000 jobs. It is still down 1.3 million jobs from February 2020.
The November employment gains were disappointing and significantly lower than the 555,0000 jobs the U.S. has averaged monthly thus far this year. Economists had been expecting much stronger growth last month after the encouraging job gains that were seen October. But rising inflation, supply chain challenges, labor shortages and a rise in coronavirus cases in some parts of the country are apparently reflected in the latest jobs report data.
Retail trade employment (-20,000) experienced an overall decline in November. Although there were job gains in food and beverage stores (+9,000) and building material and garden supply stores (+7,000), these were offset by losses in general merchandise stores (-20,000), clothing stores (-18,000), and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-9,000). Overall, retail trade employment is 176,000 lower than in February 2020 when the pandemic began in the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh sought to put a positive spin on the jobs report, issuing a statement noting the 0.4% decline in the national jobless rate and significant reductions in the unemployment rates for Black workers, Hispanic workers, and workers with less than a high school diploma.
“The president’s bipartisan Infrastructure Law will drive more job growth in the months and years ahead, and at the Department of Labor we are focused on making sure those new jobs are good jobs with access for all through proven pathways like Registered Apprenticeship,” Walsh said.