November Jobs Report: The “Least Positive” Report Since April

Wages of non-managerial workers

  • Average Hourly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: rose $0.07 from $24.80 to $24.87, which is a gain of 3.8% in the 9 months since the pandemic began. Gains had previously reflected that job losses were primarily among lower-wage earners, who have been disproportionately recalled to work. That we have increased employment and increased wages as well is a very positive development.

Aggregate hours and wages:

  • the index of aggregate hours worked for non-managerial workers rose by 0.3%. In the past 9 months combined this has nevertheless fallen by about -6.0%.
  •  the index of aggregate payrolls for non-managerial workers rose by 0.6%. In the past 9 months combined this has nevertheless fallen by about -2.4%. About 85% of the loss from February to April has been made back up.

Other significant data:

  • Full-time jobs gained 752,000 in the household report.
  • Part-time jobs declined -779,000 in the household report.
  • The number of jobholders who were part-time for economic reasons decreased by -23,000 to 6.660 million. This is still an increase since February of 2,342,000.

SUMMARY

This was a mixed report. Most of the headlines were positive, but there were several important internal weaknesses. Most importantly, permanent layoffs increased, and the manufacturing workweek declined. This is a warning that the manufacturing surge may be ebbing, while temporary job losses are metastasizing into permanent ones. The headline number of job gains was by far the least positive of any gains since April.

On the other hand, all of the other leading job categories showed increases in employment. Additionally, both average and aggregate hours, and payrolls continued to increase pretty strongly. Aggregate payrolls are back where they were a year ago (of course, inflation has eaten away at some of that rebound).

The overall tone remained positive - but the “least positive” of the last 6 months.

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