The nation’s unemployment dropped to 7% in November from October’s 7.3%, and the economy added 203,000 new jobs last month compared to the 204,000 new jobs in October, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The 203,000 new jobs figure is the second month in a row that newly created jobs beat the average monthly increase of about 195,000 new jobs over the past year. Yet while today’s report reflects 44 straight months of job growth, the pace of job growth is sluggish and just enough to absorb new entrants into the market and makes little dent in the jobs deficit. The Economic Policy Institute calculates the economy needs to add 8 million additional jobs to return to pre-recession levels.
While the drop to 7% in the unemployment rate is good news, still after more than four years of recovery it is far above its peak of 6.3% in the last economic cycle. We must broaden our focus on the issue of wage stagnation and income inequality, which will continue to stifle shared prosperity. Working families are calling for the creation of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in our future by ending all tax subsidies for outsourcing; repealing the job-killing sequester; rejecting any benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid; and protecting food aid for the poor.
Today’s jobs report also comes on the heels of Thursday’s wave of fast-food worker strikes in more than 100 cities—the largest such action to date by a movement that is gaining momentum. Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, says that the continued strong growth in low-wage jobs elevates the importance of addressing the wage crisis, even as there are hopeful signs that growth in other sectors is improving.
Our economy faces two deep fundamental problems that are reflected in jobs statements month after month. Not only do we need much stronger and sustained job growth to provide opportunities for all who want to work, we need to ensure that the jobs we are creating—in sectors such as retail, leisure and hospitality and health care—pay enough to sustain workers and their families.
The number of long-term unemployed people (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.1 million, accounting for 37.3 % of the people without jobs. The number of long-term jobless people has dropped by 718,000 over the past 12 months. The AFL-CIO is urging Congress to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, which are schedule to expire at the end of the year.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.7%), adult women (6.2%), teenagers (20.8%), whites (6.2%), African Americans (12.5%) and Latinos (8.7%) all dipped slightly in November.
The biggest job gains were in business and professional services (35,000), transportation and warehousing (31,000), health care (28,000), manufacturing (27,000), retail trade (22,000), leisure and hospitality (21,000) and construction (17,000).
Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said the rise in manufacturing jobs “is something to cheer about,” but added:
It's only one month and progress is not guaranteed, but smart public policies can boost this momentum. Investing in infrastructure and innovation, training a new generation of skilled workers, and cutting our massive trade deficit should all move to the top of the agenda in Washington. We can strengthen the middle class and our overall economy if we invest wisely in pro-manufacturing and pro-worker policies.
The number of federal government workers declined again (7,000) in November, bringing it to 92,000 for the number of federal jobs lost in the past 12 months.