As good news for the labor market goes these days, today’s numbers from Washington for November payrolls rank as one of the better reports in recent memory. Private-sector employment increased by a strong 314,000 last month, way above the +225,000 consensus forecast. “Job gains were widespread, led by growth in professional and business services, retail trade, health care, and manufacturing,” the Labor Department said in today’s release.
Even better, the data shows that wage growth picked up a bit, providing new support for expecting that the low inflation of late will stabilize if not trend higher in the near-term future. It all adds up to a convincing case for anticipating that the Federal Reserve is still on track to start raising interest rates at some point next year. In fact, today’s numbers suggest that the first hike in the policy rate in eight years may be closer than previously assumed.
What’s clear is that November was a strong month for adding employees. The addition of 314,000 workers to private-sector payrolls last month is the strongest monthly advance in nearly three years. Yes, the monthly comparison could be revised down in coming months, which wouldn’t be terribly surprising. But the more reliable year-over-year trend strongly suggests that there’s genuine progress in minting new jobs. Indeed, private payrolls increased 2.30% in the year through November – the most in annual terms since March 2012.
It’s still debatable if today’s report marks the long-awaited turning point that leads to accelerated growth in the labor market, and the economy. But at the very least it’s obvious that payrolls continue to show an encouraging degree of forward momentum. The ongoing slide in jobless claims this year seems to have anticipated as much. Meantime, wage growth firmed last month: average hourly earnings for private-sector employees increased 2.1% for the year through November, up a bit from the 2.0% pace in the previous release.
“One word can describe today’s report: Spectacular,” Todd M. Schoenberger, managing partner LandColt Capital, tells Fox News. “It’s clear lower prices at the pump are attributing to the easy beat as consumers are enjoying the extra pocket change while increasing their discretionary budgets. Higher demand equates to additional hiring, and the employment growth in retail is concrete evidence of this occurring.”