U.S. labor report: Payrolls up, jobless rate down

Payrolls continued to grow in the United States in November even as the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in more than nine years.

According to the latest Labor Departments estimates, nonfarm payrolls increased 178,000. The jobless rate decreased three-tenths of a point to 4.6 percent, the lowest reading since August 2007.

The initial estimate for total payroll gains for September and October was revised downward 2,000.  What initially was reported as a gain of 191,000 in September was revised upward 17,000 to 208,000. But a gain of 161,000 for October was revised downward 19,000 to 142,000.

With the latest numbers, payrolls have increased an average 176,000 a month over the past three months and 180,000 a month so far in 2016. That compares with an average monthly gain of 229,000 in 2015.

For November, the number of people counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work fell 387,000 to 7.4 million. Another 5.7 million were counted among those working part-time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor force participation rate edged down a tenth of a point to 62.7 percent.

Professional and business services added 63,000 jobs in November, while health care employment rose 28,000 and construction payrolls increased 19,000.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.4 hours. The manufacturing workweek slipped two-tenths of an hour to 40.6 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on nonfarm payrolls slipped 3 cents to $25.89. Over the past year, hourly earnings have increased 2.5 percent.