The U.S. economy continued its upwards climb by adding an additional 178,000 new jobs during the month of November, according to a federal report Friday.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases a report every month which tracks employment growth. The economy has improved significantly since the last recession almost a decade ago, but there are still some troublesome signs. The labor market gained an additional 178,000 jobs this past month.
“The unemployment rate decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 4.6 percent, and the number of unemployed persons declined by 387,000 to 7.4 million,” the report noted. “Both measures had shown little movement, on net, from August 2015 through October 2016.”
The economy is in a relatively good position when it comes to employment growth. The economy has even managed to reach close to full employment. Center for American Progress economist Michael Madowitz notes the growth points to a strong labor market.
“We’ve been pulling millions of workers into jobs who were on the sidelines all year,” Madowitz told InsideSources. “We’ve also seen years of sustained job growth which is finally producing a tight enough labor market to generate real wage gains for workers at all skill levels.”
Labor market indicators elsewhere, however, have not been as positive. Madowitz notes the labor force participation rate still has an uphill climb despite the positive growth in employment. It changed little from the month prior and now sits at 62.7 percent.
Ohio University professor Richard Vedder tells InsideSources the different indicators have shown the economy is facing a mixed bag of good and bad.
“The good news is people who are actively applying for full-time employment are getting jobs more than they were two or three years ago,” said Vedder. “But the less good news, even the bad news, is we still have a huge portion of our population that is not in the labor force that ought to be in the labor force.”
The labor participation rate tracks the number of employed and those actively seeking work as a percentage of the total population. The participation rate factors in those who have suffered long-term joblessness, unlike the employment rate. It has failed to reach the level it was at before the recession.
“If those people were still looking for jobs we’d have a substantial amount of unemployment,” Florida State University professor Randall Holcombe told InsideSources. “Another issue is people are underemployed, they’re working part-time, when they might rather have full-time jobs or have jobs that better use the skills that they have.”
Vedder notes the drop in the participation rate translates to millions of potential jobs. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent months showed a positive increase after being stuck around one percent. The Bureau of Economic Analysis found that it jumped to 3.2 percent in the third quarter of this year.
Professional and business services saw the most significant increase in new jobs at 63,000 followed by healthcare. Mining employment numbers changed little in November. Mining has decreased by over 220,000 jobs since reaching its peak in September 2014.
Average wages declined by 3 cents and now sit at $25.89 for the month of November. Wages increased by 11 cents in October. The jobs report does not include farm workers, private household employees or nonprofits.