November data reveal robust job market, heighten prospect for Fed rate increase

The Labor Department announced Friday that the US economy in November added 211,000 new jobs while the unemployment rate remained 5%. Bloomberg News said economists had expected about 200,000 new jobs. In addition, the department revised its estimates for September and October upward by a total of 35,000 jobs. Bloomberg added that the “healthy rate of hiring has raised the odds” that Federal Reserve policymakers next week will vote to increase US interest rates for the first time in nine years.

The AP  reported that the “healthy jobs figures indicate that consumer spending is helping the economy surmount some lingering challenges,” including the “strong dollar, which has made exports pricier overseas and squeezed US manufacturers,” as well as declining oil prices, “which have led drilling companies to slash orders for steel pipes and other equipment.”

The New York Times in its blog “The Upshot” examined still-unanswered “questions” regarding the economy, including “how rapid or slow the path is toward higher [interest] rates.” The blog post cautioned that despite the positive data, “in terms of the day-to-day experience of American workers and potential workers, the new numbers point to how much repair there is left to take place.”

Look Back 17 Years For How Manufacturing Slump Might Be Weathered. Barron’s sees parallels between last month and November 1998, when the prospects for US manufacturing appeared even worse, although “overall economic performance turned out to be far better than is likely this time around.” If trends detected in recent data persist, the piece asserts, “strength in domestic demand should be such that the U.S. economy will more than weather the current setback to manufacturing, with economic growth running 3% or higher, and the stock market hitting new peaks over the next 12 months.”

NAM’s Moutray: Slowness In Manufacturing Begs Pro-Growth Policies. IndustryWeek , in a story largely based on AFP’s reporting, noted that the Labor Department calculated that manufacturing lost 1,000 jobs last month, furthering a trend this year of weak hiring, although “September and October were both upwardly revised, with 2,000 more manufacturing jobs each month than initially reported.”

The article also cited NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray as writing: “Manufacturers have added no net new workers since January, with the sector mired by global headwinds and lower commodity prices. These challenges have dampened demand and production for manufacturers, and as a result, hiring has slowed to a standstill.” Moutray added that “even as we have seen better labor market numbers in other pockets of the economy, the manufacturing sector continues to struggle.” He also said the sector’s “sluggish growth … continues to beg pro-growth policies,” especially those aimed at bolstering companies’ global competitiveness.

Moutray’s analysis of the November jobs data is available in full in the NAM’s Shopfloor  blog.

Associated Industries of Missouri is the sole official designated partner of the National Association of Manufacturers in Missouri.