WASHINGTON (12/9/13)--The unemployment rate fell to a post-recession low of 7%, according to labor market data released Friday. The economy added 203,000 jobs in November after a downwardly revised gain of 200,000 jobs in October.
The average monthly rate of net jobs gains over the past three months is 193,000, increasing the odds, according to Moody's analysts, that the Federal Reserve will scale back Quantitative Easing later this month. The relative labor market strength comes from a drop in layoffs (Economy.com Dec 6).
Observers who spoke to MarketWatch, however, said that the labor market has not shown enough sustained improvement for the Fed to slow its bond purchasing program. Up to a quarter of jobs created last month could reflect seasonal hiring. The number of long-term job-seekers who can't find work, 4.1 million, was unchanged last month, and the steady decline in unemployment can be attributed to people dropping out of the labor force (MarketWatch Dec. 6).
The labor force added 455,000 jobs in November, bringing the participation rate up to 63%. In September, however, it was 63.2% and in November 2012 it was 63.3%.
The length of the work week and average hourly earnings also increased slightly last month, with the former increasing to 34.4 hours to 34.5 hours and the former up by 0.2% from 0.1%.
Payroll gains were recorded in 63.5% of private industries, with the largest increases reported in retail, transportation, warehousing, business services, healthcare and manufacturing.