5 Hidden Takeaways From the Surprisingly Good Jobs Report

Economy

On Friday morning the Labor Department released what is probably the strongest jobs report in years. Some 321,000 jobs were added in the month of November beating analysts' estimates by more than 100,000. It was the strongest month of hiring in more than two years, although it left the unemployment rate at 5.8%, the lowest since 2008. As some jobs analysts have said, this is no longer the “slow and steady” recovery that we’ve been experiencing, but the economic growth we've been needing. 


But if you dig through the report, you'll find more good news — and some not so good news — hidden in it. Here are five quick takeaways:

1. The U.S. economy has added jobs for 50 consecutive months. This is an all-time record for stability. Never before has our economy stringed together so many months of job growth. The previous record was 48, which was during the mid 1990s. 

2. Job growth was mostly full-time jobs. Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight tweeted a chart this morning that indicated that the job growth was mostly full-time jobs, and not a mix of full- and part-time jobs like in the early part of the recovery.

3. Unemployment among millennials has dropped significantly. Millennials, those between the ages of between the ages of 25 and 34, are getting more jobs. The unemployment rate for that demographic dropped to 6.1% from 7.4% a year ago, reports Myles Udland of Business Insider. In raw numbers, 400,000 in this age group now have jobs that didn't last year. 

4. Weekly wages have surged, but... Average weekly earnings of workers rose 2.4% from last November’s report, their fastest jump in a year. But Casselman says we should temper our enthusiasm. The amount workers earned per hour rose only 2.1%, just barely keeping ahead of the rate of inflation. So, the surge in wages comes from the fact that we’re working more, our wage rates are only steady; employers aren’t offering higher wages for employee retention.

5. Underemployment remains a problem. The U6 unemployment rate — which measures individuals who are working part time for economic reasons as well as people marginally attached to the labor force — ticked lower from 11.5% to 11.4% but remain elevated. The number of workers in part time jobs who want full time work now at its lowest rate in six years, but still elevated by historical standards.

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