United States jobs growth jumps in November

A worker stacks core samples outside a core shack at the Agnico Eagle Mines

A worker stacks core samples outside a core shack at the Agnico Eagle Mines

Statistics Canada said Friday the economy lost 71,200 jobs last month and the unemployment rate rose four-tenths of a percentage point to 5.9 per cent to its highest point since August 2018 when it hit six per cent.

The loss in jobs came as both full-time and part-time employment moved lower.

The jobs growth was helped by striking GM workers returning to work and a big rise in healthcare posts. It was expected that 10,000 positions would be added in November, according to the consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Together, that adds 41,000 more jobs than previously reported. October was revised up by 28,000 to 156,000.

Manufacturing activity contracted for a fourth month in a row in November. The factory malaise has been blamed on the Trump administration's 17-month trade war with China, which has bruised business confidence and undercut capital expenditure.

Though Washington and Beijing are working on a "phase one" trade deal, the United States has ratcheted up tensions with other trade partners including Brazil, Argentina and France.

Economic growth estimates for the fourth quarter are converging around a 1.8% annualised rate. And thanks to the strong labor market, workers have been able to make some progress on wages, which are up 3.1% over the last 12 months. The economy grew at a 2.1% pace in the third quarter.

The surge in November payrolls defied an Institute for Supply Management survey showing a measure of manufacturing employment contracted in November for the fourth straight month. Both figures are below last year's totals.

But job creation is well over the roughly 100,000 jobs per month needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

The goods-producing sector lost 26,600 jobs in the month as the number of manufacturing jobs fell by 27,500 jobs and the natural resources sector shed 6,500.

Employers have been hiring at a solid enough pace to absorb new job seekers and to potentially lower the unemployment rate, though the pace of job growth is down from previous year.

The blockbuster report provides further evidence that the US economy is withstanding a global slowdown, and reinforces the Federal Reserve's characterization of the labor market as "strong".

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