A bad November for the labor market

It could have been worse. At least employment grew by 245,000 in November – according to this morning’s employment data from the BLS. Economists had expected employment to increase by 440,000. Employment rose by 610,000 in October. Hiring slowed the most in tangible producing goods and services industries. The biggest change was in Accommodation & Food Services where employment in November actually decline by 12,000, compared to a rise in October of 227,000.

Employment in the intangible-producing sectors grew slightly in November by 68,000 compared to an increase of 57,000 in October. But this maybe an anomaly as the decline in employment in Government slowed (due in part to the cut back in Census workers in September and October). And this is in sharp contrast to the increase in intangible employment by 929,000 in August.

The slow-down was most pronounced in Professional & Business Services, which grew by only 44,000 in November compared to 208,000 in October. This slow-down almost completely offset the improvement in Government employment. Employment in Arts, Entertainment and Recreation increased by the essentially the same amount in November as in October.

Clearly the economy continues to struggle with the impact of COVID-19. While the biggest problems are in sectors with direct contact with the public, the impact is being felt by all.

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