A Remarkably Positive Jobs Report, With A Reminder That There’s More To Do
The November jobs report was released today, and it brought a lot of good news. The U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November, well exceeding analysts’ expectations of 230,000. The unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent. But the report also offers a reminder of the struggles that many working Americans continue to feel in the sluggish recovery.
The monthly jobs report doesn’t provide a comprehensive view of how our economy is doing, but it does offer an important glimpse into some of the macro employment and wage trends that reflect whether the economy is growing, and who is sharing in that growth. Here are five charts that show what to be happy about, and why we need to continue to work so that everyone has a chance for economic opportunity and prosperity.
1. A first for the U.S. economy: 50 straight months of job growth
There have now been 50 straight months of payroll job growth — which has never happened before in the U.S. economy. 2014 will have them most job growth of any year since 1999.
2. Job growth is coming from full-time employment, not part-time.
Not all jobs are created equal. The good news, over the last few years, is that employment growth is coming from full-time, not part-time work.
3. Involuntary part-time work is decreasing — but still high.
The number of people working part-time for economic reasons declined by 177,000 from October to November. But years into the economic recovery, the number remains persistently high.
4. Wage growth continues to be sluggish.
Average weekly earnings rose faster than they have in a year, by 2.4 percent. But this economic expansion has brought slower wage growth than previous ones have: comparing this recover to the past three, it is doing 5 percent worse.
5. The share of Americans in the labor force is still historically low.
The unemployment rate measures those who are out of work–but are still looking. The percentage of able-bodied adults of working age who are not looking for work remains high and clues us into some of the economic pessimism still being felt.
BOTTOM LINE: The November jobs report brought lots of good news that we hope can continue in the months to come. But this isn’t the time to declare victory: this is the foundation we need to jump start growth that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy few.