U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to 5-Year Low

The U.S. economy added a higher-than-expected 203,000 jobs in November, sending the unemployment rate to a 5-year low, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday, Dec. 6. The continuing payroll gains suggest the economy has picked up momentum very recently.

In November, the jobless rate dropped to 7 percent, compared to the 7.3 percent rate in October when 200,000 jobs were added. The economy has now generated an average of 204,000 jobs from August through November. That's up from 159,000 a month from April through July of 2013.

The report also found that despite October's 16-day government shutdown, in the long term, the economy and job growth remained uninterrupted.

With the holiday hiring season in full swing, retail jobs are sure to be a big chunk of the November employment increase. In October, the National Retail Federation calculated retail industry job gains at 37,600 for the month and 295,000 compared to 2012, a 2.4 percent increase year-over-year. Walmart (NYSE: WMT) said it hired 55,000 holiday workers this year, while both Target (NYSE: TGT) and Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) brought on an additional 70,000 seasonal employees. Overall, retailers are expected to take on 700,000 staff members throughout the holidays.

According to today's Labor Department report, manufacturing and construction were strong industries for job gains. Manufacturers added 27,000 positions, the most since March 2012. Construction firms gained 17,000.

The economic upturn due to more job growth can have a domino effect in much of the economy, even as other underlying figures suggest Americans remain cautious. Consumer spending in the third quarter advanced at the weakest pace since the recession ended, but analysts predict that if hiring continues at the current pace, more jobs usually lead to higher wages, more spending and faster growth.

For more see:
This Wall Street Journal article
This New York Times article

Related stories:
Retailers Add 37,600 Jobs in October as Holiday Hiring Shifts into Full Gear
Retailers Add 15,200 Jobs in September; Holiday Concerns Persist
Amazon, Macy's Positive About Holiday Spending
Holiday Hiring Only Likely to Reach Last Year's Level – at Best
NRF Holiday Sales Projections Rise; Shutdown Fears Loom