Payrolls and jobless rate both edge up in November

U.S. payrolls edged up in November — but so did the unemployment rate.

According to the latest estimates from the Department of Commerce, nonfarm payrolls rose 39,000 and the jobless rate rose two-tenths to 9.8 percent.

The latest numbers reflect ongoing weakness in the U.S. labor market even compared to the sluggish job growth that has occurred over the past year. Since December 2009, nonfarm payroll employment has increased an average of 86,000 a month. The jobless rate had held steady at 9.6 percent for three months before November.

The initial estimate of payroll gains for October was revised upward 21,000 to 172,000, while the estimated job losses for September was revised downward 17,000 to 24,000.

For November, temporary help services added 40,000 jobs, bringing to 494,000 total job gains since September 2009. The the health care sector added 19,000 positions in November, about 8,000 of those in hospitals. Mining employment grew by 6,000, bringing to 74,000 the payroll gains since October 2009.

Meanwhile, though, retail trade employment fell 28,000 with layoffs in department and furniture stores. Manufacturing payrolls decreased 13,000. There was little change in other industry sectors.

The average workweek for employees on nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.3 hours. The average manufacturing workweek held steady at 40.3 hours.

The average hourly earnings of employees on nonfarm payrolls edged up a cent to $22.75. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 1.6 percent.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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