Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 50,000 in November, lower than expectations, but continuing eleven consecutive months of private sector job growth. The pace was not enough to prevent the unemployment rate from climbing to 9.8 percent.
While the overall trend of economic data over the past two months has been encouraging, today’s numbers underscore the importance of extending expiring tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment insurance for those Americans who have lost their jobs. Failure to do this would jeopardize hundreds of thousands of additional jobs, and leave millions of Americans, who are out of work through no fault of their own, on their own.
In addition to the increase in November, the estimates of private sector job growth for September (now 112,000) and October (now 160,000) were revised up. Since last December, the economy has added 1.2 million private sector jobs. So far this quarter, including today’s revisions, private sector employers have added an average of 105,000 jobs per month.
Overall payroll employment rose by 39,000 last month. Among the sectors with the largest payroll employment growth were education and health services (+30,000) and temporary help services (+39,500). Retail trade (-28,100), manufacturing (-13,000), state and local government jobs (-13,000), and construction (-5,000) were among the sectors that subtracted from the total.
An unemployment rate of 9.8 percent is unacceptably high and we need to achieve robust employment growth in order to recover from the deep job losses that began over two years ago. Although the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past year, there will surely continue to be bumps in the road ahead such as this. The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
It is essential that we take the additional targeted actions that the President has recommended to increase growth and job creation, such as extending tax cuts for the middle class, investing in our infrastructure, providing tax incentives to encourage businesses to invest and hire here at home, and promoting exports abroad.
Austan Goolsbee is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers