The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department says in its new report. The unemployment rate remained steady at 5 percent, according to the monthly data from the agency's Bureau of Labor Statistics – the last such report before the Fed meets later this month.
That meeting of the Federal Reserve is widely expected to center on raising key interest rates, which have sat near zero for more than six years. The latest signal that the "normalization" process will begin came this week from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who said:
"I anticipate continued economic growth at a moderate pace that will be sufficient to generate additional increases in employment, further reductions in the remaining margins of labor market slack, and a rise in inflation to our 2 percent objective."
Friday's news follows last month's strong report, when the Labor Department said 271,000 jobs were created in October – the most in all of 2015 — with unemployment falling slightly from 5.1 to 5 percent.
Today, the agency revised that expectations-beating figure even higher, saying that 298,000 jobs had been added in October. It also revised September's employment figure, saying 145,000 jobs had been created, from an earlier report of 137,000 jobs.
Describing November's gains, the Labor Department saw growth "in construction, professional and technical services, and health care. Mining and information lost jobs."
Average hourly pay for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls "rose by 4 cents to $25.25, following a 9-cent gain in October," the agency says, adding that average hourly earnings have risen by 2.3 percent over 2015. The BLS also says that the average hourly pay for production and nonsupervisory employees changed little, reporting a rate of $21.19.
The agency says, "The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 2.1 million in November and has shown little movement since June. In November, these individuals accounted for 25.7 percent of the unemployed."
Giving more details about what sectors added jobs, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica L. Groshen says:
"Employment in professional and technical services rose by 28,000 in November. Within this industry, accounting and bookkeeping services added 11,000 jobs, and employment continued to trend up in computer systems design and related services (+5,000).
"Health care employment increased by 24,000 over the month, following a large gain in October (+51,000). Hospitals added 13,000 jobs in November. Over the past 12 months, health care employment has risen by 470,000.
"Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up over the month (+32,000). Employment in this industry has grown by 374,000 over the year.
"Retail trade employment continued on an upward trend in November (+31,000) and has risen by 284,000 over the year. November job gains occurred in general merchandise stores (+12,000) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+9,000). Over the past 12 months, these two industries have added 85,000 jobs and 71,000 jobs, respectively."