US adds 146,000 jobs jobless rate falls to 7.7%

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 07, 2012 21:00 hrs

pShaking off the effects of Hurricane Sandy and the looming fiscal impasse in Washington the economy created 146000 jobs in November well above the level economists had been expectingppThe report released Friday by the Labor Department also showed the unemployment rate fell to 77 per cent the lowest level in four years But the drop came largely from a decline in the number of people seeking work and counted as officially unemployedppAmong specific industries the retail sector was especially healthy adding 53000 jobs as the holiday shopping season approached In the last three months retail employment has increased by 140000ppOne notable point of weakness was the manufacturing sector which lost 7000 jobs in the month Demand from Europe and other overseas markets has weakened recently while some manufacturing companies have held off on spending as political leaders square off in Washington over how to cut the deficitppThe Labor Department revised job growth in previous months downward somewhat October growth fell to 138000 from an initial estimate 171000 and September&rsquos declined to 132000 from 148000 Average hourly earnings in November rose 02 per cent the report showedppBy the widest measure of joblessness unemployment also eased slightly after factoring in people looking for work as well as those forced to take part-time positions because full-time work wasn&rsquot available the total unemployed fell to 144 per cent in November from 146 per cent in OctoberppThe report for November was relatively strong economists said and showed fewer effects from Hurricane Sandy that had been expectedppIn Friday&rsquos announcement the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the storm did &ldquonot substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November&rdquoppEthan Harris co-head of global economics at Bank of America of Merrill Lynch said &ldquoIt&rsquos a pretty solid report It&rsquos consistent with a slow recovery in the job market&rdquopp&ldquoIt&rsquos encouraging that with the fiscal cliff looming the corporate sector seems willing to hire even with the worries about what&rsquos going in Washington&rdquo Harris saidppIf the budget impasse can&rsquot be resolved this month however it&rsquos likely that jobs growth will weaken early next year he added &ldquoThe fiscal cliff is a very dangerous game&rdquo he saidppIndeed other economists remained cautious about the jobs outlookpp&ldquoIt&rsquos not something to get too excited about&rdquo said Nigel Gault chief United States economist for IHS Global Insight &ldquoThe number is 146000 and the average so far this year is 151000 We&rsquore pretty much in line with what we&rsquove been doing&rdquoppGault said Hurricane Sandy&rsquos impact may have been seen in construction where the number of jobs fell by 20000 as well as in manufacturingppThe labour participation rate which represents the proportion of the adult population that is either employed or actively looking for work remains very low by historical standardsppAt 636 per cent in November Gault said it was just 01 per cent above the low point for the current economic cycle which was reached in August 2012pp&ldquoWe&rsquore not at the point in which the jobs market is strong enough to pull discouraged workers back into the labor market" he saidhr pp alignrightem© 2012 The New York Times News Serviceemp

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