2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
Dec 8, 11:59 AM EST

Robust US hiring underscores economy's growing momentum


AP Photo
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Latest Business News
Exxon says it will increase climate-change disclosures

US stock indexes mostly higher in early trade; oil falls

First time dealing with credit card fraud? You got this

Markets Right Now: Banks, health care lead stocks higher

US wholesale prices up 0.4 percent in November

Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
UK inflation rises to highest level since March 2012

UK inflation rate rises unexpectedly to 3.1 percent

UN: Global economy is growing at 3 percent _ best since 2011

30 years later, Wall Street remembers 'Wall Street'

Jobless rate for Latinos drops to a record low

A stronger global economy is helping boost the US job market

Official: Lawsuit could 'imperil' Foxconn, other projects

Where Americans found jobs: Manufacturing and health care

Robust US hiring underscores economy's growing momentum

German exports decline for 2nd month, trade surplus narrows

Interactives
Interactive about job growth
Quiz for Older Job Seekers
Who Has Lost the Jobs? A State by State Look
Interactives
Greece's Debt Threatens to Spread
State budget
gaps map
Auto industry problems trickle down, punish Tennessee county
Women give old Derby hats a makeover in tough economy
S.C. town deals with highest unemployment in South
How mortgages were bundled and sold as securities
Tracking the $700 billion financial bailout
Tracking the year's job losses
State-by-state foreclosures since 2007
Credit crisis explained
Presidents and their economic legacies
Lexicon of the financial crisis
Americans' addiction to debt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. employers added a substantial 228,000 jobs in November, a sign of the job market's enduring strength in the economy's ninth year of expansion, and the unemployment rate held at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.

Friday's jobs report from the government made clear that the U.S. economy is on firm footing and is likely benefiting from more resilient global growth, with all major economies across the world expanding in tandem for the first time in a decade.

Over the past six months, U.S. economic growth has exceeded an annual rate of 3 percent, the first time that's happened since 2014. Consumer confidence has reached its highest level since 2000. And employers have added jobs for 86 straight months, a record streak.

"It's a surprisingly strong report given the age of the recovery," said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the job listing website Indeed. "After 86 months, we're still seeing strong payroll gains."

In many cases, in fact, employers say they're struggling to find enough qualified workers to hire. Still, solid hiring and a low unemployment rate have yet to accelerate wages, which rose 2.5 percent in November compared with a year earlier. The last time unemployment was this low, average wages were growing at a 4 percent annual rate.

The November jobs data make it a near-certainty that the Federal Reserve will raise short-term interest rates for the third time this year when it meets next week, economists said.

Last month, job growth was widespread and particularly strong in manufacturing, which added 31,000 jobs, and in construction, which added 24,000. The construction job gains might have reflected, in part, renovation and repair work in such hurricane-ravaged states as Texas and Florida.

In November, retailers added nearly 19,000 jobs, a sign that physical stores are hiring for the holiday shopping season even in the face of brutal competition from e-commerce companies. Transportation and warehousing companies, which are benefiting from the e-commerce boom, added 10,500.

Hiring has slowed slightly since last year, which is typical when unemployment falls to low levels. Employers have added an average of 174,000 a month this year, a bit below last year's monthly average of 187,000.

There are also welcome signs that the recovery is finally benefiting workers who were seeing little gains in earlier stages of the rebound, Kolko said.

Workers with just a high school diploma are much more likely to have jobs than they were a year ago. And employees in some of the lower-paying industries are receiving the biggest pay gains: Average hourly pay has risen a healthy 3.8 percent for workers in a category that includes hotel and restaurant employees.

"In a tight labor market, employers may look to a wider set of candidates than they would when unemployment was higher," Kolko said.

Brian Ernest, who owns a small home renovation and contracting firm in Edgewater, Maryland, just hired a project manager to help him keep up with his fast-growing business. He advertises through the Thumbtack website and relies on word of mouth among Realtors.

"Everything in this area is going great," he said.

Homeowners are borrowing against retirement funds that are flush from stock market gains to renovate their homes, Ernest said. Others are able to obtain home equity lines of credit and other loans.

Rising confidence among consumers is translating into major purchases: Americans are buying more homes and cars. Auto sales rose 1.3 percent in November compared with a year earlier, to 1.4 million, according to Autodata Corp.

In October, newly built homes sold at their fastest pace in a decade, and existing homes sold at their quickest rate since June.

Businesses are spending more, too: Orders for such long-lasting items as industrial machinery, computers and oil-drilling equipment rose for the third straight month in October.

Though wages have yet to pick up, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said he thinks a continued decline in unemployment will lead to higher pay. U.S. metro areas with unemployment rates of 3.5 percent or lower are reporting annual wage growth of roughly 4 percent, Shepherdson said in an email.

---

AP Economics Writer Josh Boak contributed to this report.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.