Taper fears will likely be back on the table after the November jobs report showed growth that surged past economists expectations, and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in five years.
Non-farm payrolls expanded by an unexpectedly strong 203,000 last month, the Department of Labor said Friday, exceeding the forecast for 188,000 new jobs. This marks the second straight month in which the jobs report showed employers added at least 200,000 workers.
Even more surprising, the unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey, plunged to 7% from 7.3% a month ago. That marks the lowest reading since November 2008.
The last two jobs reports represent a welcome surprise and indicate that job creation accelerated sharply this autumn, despite the 16-day shutdown of the federal government. Indeed, the pick-up has helped job growth average 195,000 a month during the past 12 months, the Labor Department said.
However, as always, whether folks actually landed jobs greatly depended on the industry they were targeting.
Drilling down into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ November Employment Situation Report showed areas of strength in transportation and warehousing, healthcare and manufacturing, among other key industries.
The best place for job-seekers last month was in transportation and warehousing, which added 31,000 new positions. Areas of strength included employment among couriers and messengers, truck transportation, warehousing and storage, and air transportation.
The healthcare industry continued to post gains, adding 28,000 jobs. The jobs report showed that leading areas within the industry included home healthcare services and doctors’ offices. Healthcare has added an average of 19,000 jobs a month so far this year, down from 27,000 a month in 2012.
Manufacturing added 27,000 jobs, led by hiring in food manufacturing and in motor vehicles and parts. Other bright spots included professional and business services, which added 35,000 jobs in November. That industry has now added an average of 55,000 jobs a month over the past year.
Retail trade expanded by another 22,000 workers, led by general merchandise stores. The retail industry has added an average of 31,000 new jobs a month over the past 12 months.
Leisure and hospitality businesses — that is, restaurants and bars — continued to add workers, as did the construction industry.
On the other side of the jobs report ledger, the financial services industry continued to serve up pink slips last month, as employment in credit intermediation and related activities fell by more than 9,000.
Weak commodity prices continued to weigh on the mining industry, which shed more than 2,000 jobs, led by support activities for mining.
The telecommunications industry, legal services, and services to buildings and dwellings all showed payroll contraction, as did employment in the performing arts and spectator sports, the Labor Department said.