Despite adding jobs, November offered more of the same for America’s economy
The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
November’s job growth was slightly behind the 12-month average of 237,000, though the fields of construction, professional/technical services and healthcare were strong.
The Unemployment Stasis of 2015
The economy may have added jobs in November, but the unemployment situation barely budged:
- The unemployment rate remained low for adult men (4.7 percent), adult women (4.6 percent), Asians (3.9 percent) and whites (4.3 percent), while it remained elevated for teenagers (15.7 percent), Hispanics (6.4 percent) and African Americans (9.4 percent).
- The number of long-term unemployed (who have been jobless for more than 27 weeks) remained high at 2.1 million; more than a quarter of all unemployed workers have been out of a job long term.
- Similarly, involuntary part-time workers (those who want full-time work but can only find part-time positions) increased by 319,000 to 6.1 million, after small declines the previous two months; still, such workers have declined by 765,000 over the last 12 months.
- Finally, there remain 594,000 discouraged workers (those who have given up looking for jobs) and 1.1 million additional unemployed who the BLS considered “marginally attached,” meaning they have not searched for work because of school attendance or family responsibilities.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?
As with previous months, some sectors of the economy performed better than others:
- Construction employment rose by 46,000, with much of the increase coming from residential specialty contractors, where jobs grew by 26,000; in the last 12 months, construction has added 259,000 jobs.
- Professional and technical services added 28,000 jobs, with bookkeeping (+11,000) and computer systems (+5,000) showing particular strength.
- Health care added 24,000 jobs, and in the last year, has grown by 470,000 jobs.
- The mining sector continued to struggle, losing 11,000 jobs in November; since peaking in Dec. 2014, mining has lost 123,000 jobs.
- Information also had a weak November, losing 11,000 jobs.
Jobs without Wages
Despite the reported job increases, the most important part of the BLS’ report – wages – disappointed yet again in November, with average hourly earnings for all employees rising by just four cents from October to November, and by 2.3 percent over the last 12 months.
Wage growth has failed to keep pace with inflation for decades – American workers are making less now than they did in 1974 – and the future of housing largely depends upon workers having adequate income to purchase a house, especially with home prices rising aggressively.
For additional perspective on what salary is needed to buy a home in different housing markets, see our graph below, courtesy of a recent analysis from HSH.com. Note that Chicagoland’s housing market remains much more accessible than New York’s, Los Angeles’ or Boston’s: