Strong Job Growth in November


Total payroll employment increased by 266,000 in November, while the unemployment rate declined to 3.5%. Residential construction employment was little changed (-500) in November, after an increase of 5,400 jobs in October (revised). Total construction industry (both residential and nonresidential) employment totaled about 7.5 million in November.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Employment Situation Summary for November. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in November, following an increase of 156,000 jobs in October. It was the largest monthly gain since January 2019 (312,000). The November gain largely reflected the return of General Motors workers who were on strike in October.

The October increase was revised upward from 128,000 to 156,000. Monthly employment growth has averaged 180,000 per month for the first eleven months of 2019, compared with the average monthly growth of 223,000 over all of 2018. Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.2 million, with the average monthly growth of 184,000.

In November, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 3.5%. Over the month, the number of unemployed persons was little changed (-44,000), while the number of employed persons increased by 83,000. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, ticked down by 0.1 percentage points to 63.2% in November.

Additionally, monthly employment data released by the BLS Establishment Survey indicates that employment in the overall construction sector was little changed with a 1,000 increase in November. The number of residential construction jobs declined by 500 in November, following an increase of 5,400 jobs in October.

Residential construction employment now stands at 2.9 million in November, broken down as 847,000 builders and 2.1 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction is 3,250 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 47,400 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 937,300 positions.

In November, the unemployment rate for construction workers rose to 4.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 4.7% in October. Despite the monthly volatility, the unemployment rate for the construction sector remains historically low.

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