Job Growth Remains Soft Despite Boost From Returning Strikers

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Will Kessler Contributor
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The U.S. added 199,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in November as the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.7%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released Friday.

Economists had anticipated that the country would add 180,000 jobs in November compared to the 150,000 jobs that were added in October and that the unemployment rate would remain at 3.9%, according to Reuters. The number of jobs added in the month was boosted due to the resumption of work by autoworkers and actors who participated in the recent strikes. (RELATED: ‘The Narrative Isn’t Clear Yet’: Recession Risks Cloud Wall Street’s 2024 Outlook)

“If a person was striking and did not get paid during the pay period in which BLS conducts their surveys, then the person is not counted as a payroll,” E.J. Antoni, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “So, the end of the strikes could screw the nonfarm payroll figure (the headline jobs number) to the upside.”

Employment in the manufacturing sector increased by 28,000 for the month, boosted by 30,000 employees returning to work in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing following the end of a strike by the United Auto Workers, according to the BLS. Similarly, the motion picture and sound industry added 17,000 jobs, reflecting the end of the recent actors strike.

The health care sector led overall job gains, adding 77,000 jobs for the month, followed by government employment at 49,000 and leisure and hospitality at 40,000, according to the BLS.

The economy has produced a series of mixed indicators, most importantly above-trend economic growth in the third quarter of 2023, with gross domestic product seeing a 5.2% increase year-over-year, while consumer spending fell to its lowest point since March for the month of October.

Inflation has continued to remain above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, rising 3.2% year-over-year in October, decelerating from the recent high of 9.1% in June 2022.

The non-partisan Leading Economic Index, which aggregates a number of different economic indicators, predicts that the economy will grow by only 0.8% in 2024, owing to a recession at the beginning of the year.

“Sectors like manufacturing are contracting and should show jobs lost last month. That will drive the year-to-date change in manufacturing jobs even further into the red,” Antoni told the DCNF. “We can also expect a continuation of the existing trend where government jobs are growing faster than many or all other subsectors. Since employment is a lagging indicator, the closer the jobs numbers go to zero, the more likely that we’re already in a recession.”

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