Job growth falls short of expectations in November


Ahead of this morning’s jobs report, the New York Times  reported that economists expected gains of 190,000. Given recent Wall Street volatility, and chatter about a possible recession on the horizon, a weaker number, the report added, “would do little to soothe anxieties.”

With this in mind, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the economy added 155,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7%.

On a related note, the revisions for the two previous months – September and October – pointed to a net loss of 12,000.

In terms of the larger context, this morning’s data points to 2.27 million jobs created so far in 2018, which is quite good, and which is an improvement on the totals from the first 11 months of 2017 (2.01 million). It’s also up over the comparable period from 2016 (2.16 million). That said, this year’s tally is still short of the totals from the first 11 months of 2014 (2.75 million) and 2015 (2.46 million).

When the White House says this is the best growth “ever,” it apparently means “since a few years ago.”

As for the political implications, Donald Trump has now been in office for 22 full months – February 2017 through November 2018 – and in that time, the economy has created 4.2 million jobs. In the 22 full months preceding Trump’s presidency – April 2015 to January 2017 – the economy created 4.74 million jobs.

The White House has not yet offered an explanation for why job growth has slowed since Trump took office.

Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly changes in total jobs since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction: red columns point to monthly changes under the Bush and Trump administrations, while blue columns point to monthly job changes under the Obama administration.

Update: Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.