The labor market looks to have weathered Superstorm Sandy better than anyone thought.
The hurricane that crippled the eastern U.S. last month was supposed to have wrought havoc on the November payrolls report, but new job creation came in much better than expected — the unemployment rate actually fell when everyone thought it would rise.
The economy added another 146,000 jobs last month against expectations of just 80,000. The unemployment rate declined to 7.7% from 7.8%, versus a forecast jump to 8%.
“Our analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its report.
However, as always, whether folks actually landed jobs was highly dependent on the industry in which they were looking.
Drilling down into the Department of Labor’s November Employment Situation report reveals strong seasonal and storm-related trends. The biggest job creation was found in retail trade, while building construction was the biggest loser.
Retail trade employment rose by 53,000 last month, the Labor Department said, led by job gains in clothing and clothing accessory stores, which contributed 33,000 new positions.
General merchandise stores hired 10,000 new employees, while electronics and appliance stores established 9,000 new jobs. The retail sector has now increased hiring by 140,000 new jobs over the last three months.
On the other side of the ledger, employment in the construction industry fell by 20,000 in November. More than half of the losses came in construction of buildings, which shed 11,000 workers. Employment in construction has shown no clear trend since early 2010, the Labor Department said.
Other sectors of the economy adding jobs included professional services, healthcare, wholesale trade and leisure & hospitality.
For example, a total of 43,000 new jobs were found in professional and business services, helped by additional employment gains in computer systems design and related services.
Healthcare employment likewise continued its upward trend last month with another 20,000 workers, led by hospitals and nursing care facilities. For the year-to-date, the healthcare sector has added an average of 26,000 jobs a month.
Wholesale trade ticked up by 13,000 new jobs, the Labor Department said. Since bottoming out in May 2010, the industry has added 228,000 jobs.
On a net basis, employment in the manufacturing sector was little changed month-to-month. Job losses in food manufacturing (Thanks, Hostess!) and chemicals were more than offset by additional employment in motor vehicles & parts and wood products.
Indeed, the Labor Department said that despite the churn within the industry, total employment in manufacturing has changed little since last spring.
The industries that were a wash month-to-month, showing essentially no change in hiring or firing, included mining & logging, transportation & warehousing and financial activities.