WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring in the United States jumped last month to its highest level since January as U.S. employers shrugged off trade conflicts and a global slowdown and added 266,000 jobs.
The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5% from 3.6% in October, matching a half-century low, the Labor Department reported today. And wages rose a solid 3.1% in November compared with a year earlier.
Stock futures surged on the unexpectedly strong jobs report.
November’s healthy job gain runs against a widespread view that many employers are either delaying hiring until a breakthrough in the U.S.-China trade war is reached or are struggling to find workers with unemployment so low. The pace of hiring points to the resilience of the job market and economy more than a decade into the U.S. economic expansion — the longest on record.
The steady job growth has helped reassure consumers that the economy is expanding and that their jobs and incomes remain secure.
Monthly job growth has in fact accelerated since this summer, averaging 205,000 over the past three months, up from just 135,000 in July.
Outsize hiring for the holiday shopping season did not appear to be a major driver of last month’s job growth. Retailers added just 2,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. And transportation and warehousing firms gained fewer than 16,000. Both figures are below last year’s totals. The shopping season is shorter this year because Thanksgiving occurred later than in recent years, which might be delaying some temporary hiring.
And, with inflation surprisingly low, the Federal Reserve has cut its benchmark short-term interest rate three times this year. Those rate cuts have helped support the housing market. Sales of existing homes have risen nearly 5% in the past year. Sales of new homes have soared by one-third.