By David Harrison
The U.S. economy added just 210,000 jobs in November, a slowdown in hiring that clouds a recovery amid new Covid-19 uncertainties.
The slower pace of hiring last month--the smallest monthly gain since last December--followed an upwardly revised increase of 546,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 4.2% as more people joined the labor force, the department added.
Average wages rose 4.8% from a year ago, as workers continued to see pay increases amid higher inflation.
The share of people either working or looking for work rose to 61.8% in November from 61.6% in October, suggesting that wage increases are starting to draw workers off the sidelines.
The economy over the past couple of months appeared to have been rebounding from a summertime slowdown caused by the Covid-19 Delta variant and supply-chain disruptions. Household spending picked up 1.3% in October from the previous month, outpacing inflation, as a strengthening labor market and accumulated household savings prompted consumers to splurge.
The retail sector lost 20,000 jobs in November, with losses concentrated in general merchandise, clothing and sporting goods stores that were partly offset by increases in food and beverage stores and building-supply stores.
Transportation and warehousing added 50,000 positions and professional and business services added 90,000.
Now, the Omicron variant presents another threat to the recovery, depending on how easily it spreads and responds to vaccines, treatments and past infection. Another surge in cases could make people nervous about leaving the house to work or shop, resulting in slower economic growth.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires