While job gains decelerated in November, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% and the labor force participation rate increased to 61.8%, the highest reading since March 2020. The increase in the labor force participation rate indicates that more people are returning to the labor force, a necessary requirement for additional hiring.
Construction industry employment (both residential and non-residential) totaled 7.5 million, with 31,000 construction jobs added in November. Both residential construction (+10,300) and non-residential construction (+20,800) had job gains for the month. Residential construction employment exceeds its level in February 2020, while 67% of nonresidential construction jobs lost in March and April have now been recovered.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 210,000 in November, following a gain of 546,000 in October, as reported in the Employment Situation Summary. It is the smallest monthly gain since January 2021. Job gains for September and October were revised upward. The October increase was revised up by 15,000 from +531,000 to +546,000, while the September increase was revised up by 67,000.
Over 6.1 million jobs have been created during the first eleven months of 2021 and monthly employment growth has averaged 555,000 per month. Total nonfarm employment in November 2021 is still 3.9 million lower than its pre-pandemic level in February 2020 level.
In November, professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, construction, and manufacturing had notable job gains, while employments in retail trade declined over the month.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 4.2% in November, the lowest rate since the pandemic. It was 10.6 percentage points lower than its recent high of 14.8% in April 2020 and 0.7 percentage points higher than the rate in February 2020. The November decrease in the unemployment rate reflected a decrease in the number of persons unemployed (-542,000) and an increase in the number of persons employed (1,136,000).
The labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, increased to 61.8% in November. It is the highest level since March 2020. The increase in the labor force participation rate reflected a 594,000 increase in the number of the civilian labor force and a 473,000 decrease in the number of persons not in the labor force. Moreover, the labor force participation rate for people who aged between 25 and 54 increased to 81.8% in November.
Employment in the overall construction sector rose by 31,000 in November. Over the month, residential construction added 10,300 jobs, and nonresidential construction employment rose by 20,800 jobs.
Residential construction employment now stands at 3.1 million in November, broken down as 889,000 builders and 2.2 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction was 9,733 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 107,100 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 1,093,600 positions.
In November, the unemployment rate for construction workers rose by 0.6 percentage points to 5.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for construction workers has been trending lower, after reaching 14.1% in April 2020, due to the housing demand impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.