November employment growth slows in both tangible and intangible industries

Employment growth slowed in November according to the BLS data released this morning. Nonfarm payrolls were up by only 210,000 employees, compared to 546,000 in October and 379,000 in September.

Employment rose in both intangible-producing and tangible-producing industries at a slower pace than in previous months. Employment in intangible-producing industries grew by just 91,300 while employment in tangible-producing industries was up by only 118,200. This compares to increases of around half a million in both tangible-producing and intangible-producing industries during the past summer.

Interestingly employment in the tangible portions of the education and health care sectors (Nursing & Residential Care Facilities and Child Day Care Services) actually declined while employment in the intangible portions increased (but at a slower rate). Employment in Personal & Laundry Services, Telecommunications, and Government also declined. One of the few industries to see an increase in employment compared to last month was Tangible business services, due to higher than last month’s employment in Services to Building & Dwellings and the Postal Service.

As I have noted in earlier postings, the labor market seems to have settled back into the post-Great Recession, pre-pandemic pattern of relatively equal growth in tangible-producing versus intangible-producing industries – but at a slower rate. The COVID-19 pandemic has done little to disrupt to dramatic shift in the tangible-intangible structural balance that emerged after the Great Recession.

For more on the categories, see my explanation of the methodology in an earlier posting