Friday, December 3, 2010

National unemployment rate increased in November

The national unemployment rate increased slightly from October to November, moving from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent.

Total employment increased by 287,000. The growth was slightly more than expected this time of year, as the nation usually adds about 248,000 from October to November. This leaves a seasonally adjusted gain of 39,000 jobs.

Where were the gains? My first guess was larger-than-normal growth in retail trade, since many economists are predicting a good holiday shopping season for businesses. And retail employment definitely increased over the month... but the growth was somewhat less than seasonally expected.

What I often forget is that retail is not the only industry which needs more people during a busy holiday season -- lots of companies see increased demand and need a few temporary workers to fill in the gaps. Some retail establishments likely snag additional workers with the help of temp services...

So it makes sense that the temporary help services industry saw one of the largest gains over the month, as it added 40,000 more workers than seasonally expected.

Another source of growth was health care, which added about 18,000 more jobs than seasonally expected. Half these jobs were in hospitals.

More details about these industry-level changes can be found in the press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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