The Bureau of Labor Statistics unveiled the latest jobs report Friday and the results blew out all expectations as the economy added 321,000 jobs in November. Forecasters expected job gains to be in line with the past year’s average, which has been around 224,000 new jobs a month. The latest report also revised the job gains for September and October upward. Then unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8%. All in all, the BLS report was positive and showed that 2014 has been the strongest year for job growth since 1999.
Over the past year, the unemployment rate has dropped 1.2 percentage points, and we’ve seen a reduction of 1.7 million unemployed persons. The private sector added 314,000 jobs while 7,000 local, state and federal government jobs were filled. Median wages did grow slightly as the median wage for a worker rose 9 cents to $25.66. However, the average wage increase over the past year has been only 2.1%, which is in line with inflation, suggesting wages are stagnant. The average work week went up slightly from 34.5 to 34.6 hours per week. Manufacturing jobs saw a larger increase in the average workweek of its workers.
Below image courtesy of CNN:
There was also some slightly good news for the long-term unemployed. For workers actively seeking work, but who’ve been unemployed for over 27 weeks, the numbers fell by 101,000 to 2.8 million. Over the past year, the number of long-term unemployed has fallen by 1.2 million. This would suggest that much of the job growth we’ve seen has affected some, but not all, of those who’ve been sitting on the sidelines for a while.
Steady job growth was seen in the healthcare industry as it saw a net gain of 29,000 jobs in November. Manufacturing gains were also strong as the industry added 28,000 jobs last month. Unsurprisingly, retail saw a surge ahead of the holiday season, as 50,000 jobs were added in November. The finance sector added 20,000 jobs while construction added the same total.
Of course, it isn’t all good news. Millenials are not seeing many opportunities for advancement or higher-paying jobs. While we see job growth across many industries, and the unemployment rate is falling, jobs for younger people are actually seeing the median wages drop. Discussing a report by Young Invincibles, Tami Luhby of CNN Money wrote the following:
Median annual wages have fallen in nearly all of the most popular industry sectors that employ 25 to 34-year-olds over the past decade.
In retail and wholesale trade, which employs the largest share of these older Millennials, median wages plummeted 15% to $25,000. Wages in the leisure and hospitality industry fell 5% to $18,000. Only healthcare, the second most popular field, saw wages grow, albeit by a paltry 2% to $30,000.
“They are not finding the jobs they need to set them up for their long-term financial future,” said Konrad Mugglestone, co-author of the report.
Due to that dissatisfaction among young workers, and the reality that they are seeing their earnings cut while the cost of living goes up, it is imperative that the federal minimum wage be lifted ASAP. With that in mind, fast-food and other low-wage workers have continued to protest in the streets to push for a living wage in their industry.
While income inequality and stagnant wages are a real concern that needs to be addressed immediately, there is still a lot of good news in this report. The fact that we have seen the best job growth in this country in 15 years is something that should be celebrated. It also indicates that Democrats missed the boat during the midterms. They should have ran on the growing economy and the fact that under President Obama the country has dug itself out of a huge hole caused by the financial crisis in 2008. Instead, they allowed Republicans to set the narrative while they ran as far away from Obama as possible.