The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a data on Friday that U.S. economy gained just 155,000 jobs during the month of November. Economists had forecast an increase of 198,000, compared with October’s robust 237,000.
According to November’s report, the rate of unemployment remained unchanged at 3.7 percent, the lowest in almost 50 years, and wage increase marked up to 3.1 percent — partially because of an increase in minimum wage by retail giant Amazon — matching the exciting gain in October, which saw wage gains spike at the fastest speed since 2009.
Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group said, “Today’s lower-than-expected job numbers may appear particularly disappointing after such a strong month in October”. He also said, “It’s hard to expect the economy to sustain over 200,000 jobs each month while maintaining such a low unemployment rate, especially given the impact of wildfires and the continuation of tariffs and trade policy changes.”
The latest picture of the economy comes amid an unstable week on Wall Street, where rising political tension with China, concerns about a global economic slowdown, and alarms of a U.S. recession led to a huge sell-off.
After a 500-point upward swing on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed by around 800 points twice in the past two trading days (Tuesday and Thursday, with markets closed on Wednesday in honor of funeral services for former President George H.W. Bush),.
Dow futures trended rising on Friday morning in pre-market trading as the weaker-than-expected jobs number relieved fears that the Federal Reserve would aggressively enhance the interest rates against the background of a historically tight labor market with increasing wages.
“Investors clearly want the Fed to cool it with rate hikes amid concerns about trade and tariffs, risks for global growth and the slowdown in the housing market,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.
“Our economy is currently performing very well overall, with strong job creation and gradually rising wages,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday. “In fact, by many national-level measures, our labor market is very strong.”
The Fed is broadly anticipated to raise interest rates at its next two-day monetary policy meeting, on Dec. 18-19. This hike in interest rates would be the fourth this year and the fourth for the Trump-nominated Powell. Market watchers are expecting a more measured trajectory of interest rate increases for 2019.
“The U.S. economy is facing headwinds as the year winds down,” said Hamrick. “Slowing global growth, surging U.S. interest rates and uncertainty surrounding U.S. trade are among the downside risks. Still, as it now stands, U.S. growth in 2018 is on track for an annual gain of nearly 3 percent. Is this as good as it gets? Stay tuned.”