Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of about 550,000 new jobs added in the United States in November. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the preliminary tally suggests the job market was weaker than expected. CNBC reported this morning:
The U.S. economy created far fewer jobs than expected in November, before a new Covid threat created a scare that growth could slow into the winter, the Labor Department reported Friday. Nonfarm payrolls increased by just 210,000 for the month, though the unemployment rate fell sharply to 4.2%.
All things considered, this report is ... kind of weird. With the unemployment rate at a 20-month low, wage growth up, and the labor force participation rate up, we'd expect to see stronger overall job growth.
What's more, job totals from September and October were both revised up, adding an additional 82,000 previously unreported new jobs — on top of the 210,000 jobs created in November.
With this in mind, as disappointing as it is to see November's tally fall far short of expectations, it's hard not to wonder whether this initial total will be revised in an encouraging direction a month or two from now. This would certainly be in keeping with the recent trend: Throughout 2021, preliminary jobs reports have dramatically understated actual job growth.
As for the political context, over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump's term — when the then-Republican president said the United States' economy was the greatest in the history of the planet — the economy created roughly 6.5 million jobs. This includes all of 2017, 2018, and 2019.
In the first 11 months of 2021, the U.S. economy has created 6.1 million jobs — and that's before the revisions for November.
For many years, I ran a chart at the bottom of posts about the monthly jobs reports, but the job losses at the start of the pandemic were so severe, it's rendered the image largely meaningless. I'm still retooling it in the hopes of making it useful again.