–Retransmitting Story Headlined 8:30 ET Friday
–November Payrolls +120,000; Prior Two Months Revised +72,000

By Denny Gulino

WASHINGTON (MNI) – Unexpected shifts in the labor force and more
hiring — and perhaps fewer layoffs — gave the November unemployment
report a makeover — an 8.6% unemployment rate — while payrolls and
revisions sustained the improvement in the jobs numbers evident since
June.

The November rate was the lowest in nearly three years, and was
accompanied by 120,000 payroll jobs after seasonal adjustment and
another 72,000 revised into the total from September and October, the
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Half the four tenths improvement in the rate — the same as
January’s jump — was “in employment growth, half in the drop in the
labor force,” the chief of the BLS employment section Tom Nardone told
Market News International in a prepublication interview.

“The basic story is, a big drop in unemployment,” he said. “It
wasn’t all people dropping out of the labor force, and it wasn’t all
people finding work. It was a combination of the two.”

“You had basically two things,” he said. The labor force shrank by
a statistically significant 315,000″ and the survey of households “found
employment up 278,000 — not statistically significant.”

And not readily explainable either. “Labor force participation
for men was unchanged,” he said, but “women’s was down … for
whatever reason, and we don’t know the reason.”

So the jobless rate for adult men, 20 and over, dropped by a full
half percentage point in November, to 8.3% as employment rose over the
month. Increased hiring may have shared the credit with fewer layoffs,
he said. The data doesn’t explain it.

But for adult women, the labor participation rate dropped to 59.5%
from 60.1%. Their unemployment rate was 7.8%.

There was also a sharp improvement in November for teenagers but,
Nardone said, given they are a much smaller group, there was not a big
impact on the bottom line.

“We’re talking net changes and what happened in the real
world could be stuff like people didn’t get laid off that typically were
laid off, not necessarily a lot of hiring for men,” Nardone said.
Overall, he reminded, “Just one month does not a trend make.”

In retrospect, “It seems like a pretty average month,” Nardone
said of November. “There were those couple of months earlier this year
when things were really strong … then a couple of months weakened
out, and now five months in the 120,000 range,” he said.

Regardless of which time period chosen, whether the 11 months of
this year, or going back to the trough of employment, “it’s all coming
out about the same,” he said, moderate month-by-month improvement.

Temporary help numbers, often regarded as a precursor of permanent
hiring, had sustained “some very small negatives in the April-May-June
period,” but since June “basically the industry has added about 100,000
jobs, 22,000 of which were in November.”

The revisions for September and October, adding 72,000 jobs to
the year’s total, were scattered among jobs categories without any
one dominant. In October, when the original 80,000 became 100,000,
education and health added 9,000, professional and business services
added 7,000, and retail subtracted 5,000.

In September, originally reported at 103,000 — including
45,000 returning telecom strikers — and revised to 158,000, became
210,000 in the November revision and again those changes were scattered.

The November unemployment rate of 8.645% was a decline of 0.367
point from October. Without seasonal adjustment, there were 339,000 jobs
actually added in the month, a moderate seasonal lean composed mostly of
retail jobs typically added for the holiday season, and the unadjusted
unemployment rate was 8.2%, down from October’s 8.5%. “The next really
big seasonal month is January, when millions of retail workers are let
go,” he said.

Average hourly earnings for production and supervisory workers rose
2 cents in November but the annual change was a positive 1.6% after an
annual change through October of 1.5%. “That’s a little low,” he said.
Earlier in the year that change was hitting 2.5% and 2.1%. For all
workers the year’s gain was 1.8% and had been 1.9% the prior two months.

Overall hours of work were flat in November, at 34.3, and
manufacturing hours reversed the 0.2 increase in October. Factory
overtime remained at 3.2 hours.

Retail trade employment after adjustment grew by 50,000 in November
with clothing and clothing accessories stores contributing 27,000.

Leisure and hospitality workers rose 22,000 and restaurants and
bars added 33,000. In 12 months, the category has added 253,000.

Professional and business services rose 33,000, health care added
17,000 while manufacturing “has been essentially unchanged since July,
the report said.

Construction employment, as has been the trend, also showed
little movement.

Government jobs showed more of what has been typical
monthly erosion.

The report showed 13.3 million unemployed persons in November,
594,000 less than in October.

Expectations in a Market News International survey had centered on
a gain of 112,000 for November payrolls, with an unemployment rate that
stayed at 9.0%.

** Market News International Washington Bureau: (202) 371-2121 **

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