U.S. payrolls swell as jobless rate slips

U.S. payrolls swelled in November and the unemployment rate edged down to its lowest level in 50 years.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 266,000 and the jobless rate slipped a tenth of a point to 3.5 percent, according to the latest Labor Department estimates.

The initial estimate for payroll gains in October was revised upward 28,000 to 156,000. The estimate for September was revised upward 13,000 to 193,000.

With the latest numbers, payrolls have increased an average of 180,000 in 2019. Payrolls increased an average of 223,000 in 2018.

For November, 5.8 million people were counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work. Of those, 1.2 million people had been out of work 27 weeks or longer. Another 4.3 million people were counted among those working part time because their hours had been cut or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor participation rate edged down a tenth of a point to 63.2 percent.

Payroll gains were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Employment increased 54,000 in manufacturing with the return of auto workers who’d been on strike. Employment increased 45,000 in both the health care and leisure and hospitality sectors. Professional and technical services added 31,000 jobs.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.4 hours. The manufacturing workweek edged up a tenth of an hour to 40.5 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 7 cents to $28.29. Hourly wages have increased 3.1 percent over the past year.