The latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is a mixed bag. While the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point since 2007, hourly earnings fell.
The U.S. added 178,000 new jobs in November, according to the BLS, which is in line with what economists projected. While the BLS revised job gains in September to 208,000 (up from 191,000), October’s numbers were revised down to 142,000 (from 161,000). Over the last three months, the U.S. has added an average of 176,000 jobs.
The bright spot of the report was the unemployment rate, which dropped to 4.6 percent; economists had expected it to remain unchanged at 4.9. This number is significant for two reasons: Not only does it mark the lowest unemployment rate since 2007, but according to NPR’s Marilyn Geewax, “4.6 percent unemployment is what most economists consider “’full employment.’”
The biggest disappointment of the report was the average hourly earnings, which dropped by 3 cents – a particularly big blow right after wages saw a remarkable 11-cent rise in October. It’s also surprising to see wages drop, considering a low unemployment rate means more competition for workers, inciting employers to raise wages. Still, it’s worth noting that wages have increased by 2.5 percent over the course of the year.
Overall, the latest BLS employment report was a solid one, and this month marks the 74th consecutive month of job growth. As a small business employer, you play a major role in driving economic growth.