Although the Labor Department's monthly payroll report, released Friday morning, provided the latest evidence that a wave of COVID-19 infections is threatening to undermine the nation's economic recovery from the pandemic, it also showed that there were some pockets of growth in the labor market.
Notable job gains took place in the transportation and warehousing industry, which added 145,000 new employees last month, boosted by an increase in couriers and messengers, as well as warehousing and storage. Since February, before the crisis began, employment in these industries has actually increased by a respective 182,000 and 97,000.
Truck transportation also saw an increase in hiring, with 13,000 new positions added last month.
Professional and business services rose by 60,000, with roughly half of the gains occurring in temporary help services. Growth also occurred in services to buildings and dwellings, with 14,000 new positions created in November.
Health care, meanwhile, added 46,000 jobs, stemming from the offices of physicians (21,000), home health-care services (13,000) and other health practitioners (8,000). Still, nursing home facilities continued to lose jobs, shedding 12,000 employees last month. Health care employment remains 527,000 lower than in February.
Construction saw 27,000 new hires last month, driven by an increase in residential specialty trade contractors and civil engineering construction. Manufacturing also rose by 27,000, with the majority of gains taking place in motor vehicles and parts.
Financial activities increased by 15,000, and wholesale trade rose by 10,000.
But the leisure and hospitality industry, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, added just 31,000 jobs last month, while retail lost 35,000 jobs -- a potential sign of trouble ahead of the pivotal holiday shopping season.
Government employment also declined for the third consecutive month, decreasing by 99,000 in November. A drop of 86,000 employees in the federal government reflected the loss of 93,000 temporary workers who had been hired for the 2020 Census.
In total, the U.S. has recovered roughly half of the 22 million jobs lost during the first two months of the pandemic. There are still about 9.8 million more Americans out of work than there were in February before the crisis began.
At the current pace, the U.S. will not return to the pre-crisis level of employment until 2024, according to Glassdoor economist Daniel Zhao.
“As the pandemic surges, labor market recovery is clearly decelerating and cracks are beginning to show," he said, addding: "Today's report is a firm reminder that we're not out of the woods yet. Even with a vaccine on the horizon, many are bracing for a long winter ahead."