Reflecting renewed restrictions amid the recent surge in new coronavirus cases, the Labor Department released a report on Friday showing U.S. job growth slowed by much more than anticipated in the month of November.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment rose by 245,000 jobs in November after jumping by a downwardly revised 610,000 jobs in October.
Economists had expected employment to increase by 469,000 jobs compared to the addition of 638,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
The weaker than expected job growth was partly due to the loss of 99,000 government jobs amid a decline in the number of temporary census workers.
At the same time, the report also showed a decrease in retail employment as well as a significant slowdown in the pace of job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector.
The Labor Department said the increase in employment in November reflected notable job gains in transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, and healthcare.
Despite the weaker than expected job growth, the report said the unemployment rate dipped to 6.7 percent in November from 6.9 percent in October. The unemployment rate was expected to edge down to 6.8 percent.
However, the bigger than expected drop in the unemployment rate came as a 400,000-person decline in the labor force far outpaced the 74,000-person drop in the household measure of employment.
“The latter is not too much of a concern given it follows a 2.3 million gain in October, but the drop in the labor force, which is now 4 million below its pre-pandemic level, is a worrying sign that the unemployed are giving up looking for work,” said Michael Pearce, U.S. Senior Economist at Capital Economics.
The report said average hourly employee earnings rose by $0.09 or 0.3 percent to $29.58 in November. Annual wage growth was unchanged from the previous month at 4.4 percent.