US jobs growth slows in November

U.S. employment report seen calming fears over economy

USA employers added just 155,000 jobs in November, a slowdown from recent months but enough to suggest that the economy is expanding at a solid pace despite sharp gyrations in the stock market.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 155,000 after a downwardly revised 237,000 gain in the prior month, a Labor Department report showed Friday.

USA payrolls and wages rose by less than forecast in November while the unemployment rate held at the lowest in nearly five decades, indicating some moderation in a still-healthy labor market.

The monthly gain in average hourly earnings for all private workers followed a downwardly revised 0.1 percent increase, the report showed.

November's gains marked a slowdown from the roughly 200,000 jobs the USA economy has added on average each month over the previous year.

Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist for Capital Economics, said Friday's employment report may add to the nervousness that has hit financial markets in recent weeks.

"There is nothing here to suggest the economy is suffering a more sudden downturn".

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The ongoing job gains are pushing down unemployment rates to historically low levels for a variety of groups. While the data may spur more concern over the outlook after stocks and bond yields tumbled this week, some investors may see the prospect of a slower pace of Federal Reserve interest-rate increases as a positive following an expected hike this month.

But analysts said the cooling labour market signalled in this report may convince officials to move more slowly in 2019. Hiring has averaged 195,000 a month for the past six months, modestly below an average of 212,000 in the previous six.

Construction firms cut back, however, adding just 5,000 jobs, the fewest in five months.

The jobless rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent in November, matching estimates. Hiring also slowed in restaurants, bars and hotels.

"If the trade situation goes on for long enough, you could start seeing some of the job growth in those sectors be impacted", Martha Gimbel, director of economic research of job website Indeed.com, told MoneyWatch this week. And both manufacturing and services companies expanded at a healthy pace in November, according to a pair of business surveys. Unemployment rates dropped sharply for African-Americans, Asian-Americans and workers with only a high school diploma or less.

Sales of existing homes have fallen 5.4 percent from a year earlier, the biggest annual decline in more than four years. They are anxious that the U.S. Higher tariffs would compound the risks for a global economy that is already grappling with dismal growth figures from Europe and Japan. That typically signals a weaker economy ahead.

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