Strong Job Numbers Bring Unemployment Down to 5-Year Low

econ index nov. 2013Unemployment fell to the lowest level in five years in November as employers added 203,000 jobs, demonstrating an economic strength that surprised economists who had been expecting lower numbers.

The U.S. Labor Department report out this morning said the unemployment rate declined to 7.0 percent from October’s 7.3 percent, even as more workers joined the labor force and the total employed population rose, in part reflecting the return to work of furloughed federal employees.

“This is just a clean sweep,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services Group. “It’s a very good report. It’s across the board.”

Economists polled by Reuters had been expecting a much more modest improvement in the numbers to 7.2 percent unemployment and the addition of about 180,000 new jobs. Dow Jones Newswires found economists anticipating similar results.

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The monthly report offered upbeat news throughout:

  • Adjustments to the initial September and October reports increased the number of new jobs by 8,000;
  • Average hourly earnings rose 4 cents to $24.15, about 2 percent on the year;
  • The average workweek for all workers rose as did the length of the workweek for manufacturing workers;
  • Nearly all non-government sectors of the economy gained workers, with manufacturing showing surprising strength, adding 27,000 new jobs, some of the strongest growth in months.
  • Construction was up 17,000 jobs.
  • Other sectors with strong growth were: transportation and warehousing (+30,500), healthcare +28,400), retail (+22,300) with most of the growth coming from sporting goods, hobby, book and music shops, and general merchandise retailers, bars and restaurants (+17,900), and temp (+16,400).

The only losses came in the financial sector, which lost 3,000 jobs overall, and information, where the telecom industry cut 2,100 jobs. The federal government shed 7,000 jobs.

Only Wall Street could find the grey cloud, fretting that the strong jobs numbers these last several months could lead the Federal Reserve to begin curtailing its bond buying. The Fed’s stimulus program has helped keep interest rates, encouraging investment by business.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

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