Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg / Getty Images

US job growth remains solid, nudging Fed closer to rate hike

Labor Department said employers added 211,000 jobs in November; pay gains remained modest

U.S. job growth remained solid in November, increasing the chances that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates from record lows later this month.

The Labor Department said Friday employers added 211,000 jobs last month, led by big gains in construction and retail. Hiring was revised higher in October and September by a combined 35,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate remained at 5 percent for the second straight month as more Americans entered the workforce to look for jobs.

The robust hiring is the latest sign that steady consumer spending is powering the economy even as weak growth overseas and low oil prices squeeze manufacturers. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said this week the job market would soon return to normal as long as the economy keeps growing at its current pace. Her remarks were widely seen as signaling a likely rate hike at the Fed's mid-December meeting.

Other labor market measures that Fed officials are eyeing as they consider lifting the benchmark interest rate from near zero were mixed.

The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, rose to 62.5 percent from a near 38-year low of 62.4 percent.

A broad measure of joblessness that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.9 percent.

Pay gains last month were modest. Average hourly wages rose 2.3 percent from 12 months earlier.

Still, the second month of strong job gains should allay fears the economy has hit a soft patch, after reports showing tepid consumer spending in October and a slowdown in services industry growth in November. Manufacturing contracted in November for the first time in three years.

Though wage growth slowed last month, economists say that was mostly payback for October's outsized gains, which were driven by a calendar quirk. Anecdotal evidence, as well as data on labor-related costs, suggest that tightening job market conditions are starting to put upward pressure on wages.

Average hourly earnings increased four cents or 0.2 percent from 0.4 percent in October. That lowered the year-on-year reading to 2.3 percent from 2.5 percent in October. The average workweek, however, dipped to 34.5 hours from 34.6.

Wire services

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter