November jobs report expected to show rebound in US labor market

November expected to show a rebound in job growth

While there’s no question that job creation has slowed this year, November employment data is expected to signal that the U.S. labor market is humming along at a steady pace.

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Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expect the economy added 180,000 jobs in November, up from the higher-than-expected 128,000 in October, when 48,000 General Motors employees walked out for a 40-day strike. It’s above the average employment growth of 176,000 over the past three months.

Unemployment is projected to hold steady at 3.6 percent, near a 50-year low.

One reason for the rebound is the conclusion of the GM strike at the end of October. The workers on strike will be added back to payrolls in November, likely boosting the number.

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Still, average monthly job growth in 2019 is well below the pace seen during this time last year, according to Bankrate.com chief economist Mark Hamrick. For that to change -- the U.S. economy has added 26 percent fewer jobs than it did in 2018 so far this year -- there would need to be a “major development.”

“Employers continue to counter challenges associated with trade disputes and tariffs,” he said. “The general election, now less than one year away, will add another layer of uncertainty for business leaders trying to make decisions on hiring and investment.”

As the U.S. continues the longest economic expansion on record, investors are looking at the Department of Labor’s monthly payroll and unemployment data for signs that the rapid job growth over the past two years is softening and giving way to an overall growth slowdown.

Overall, America’s labor market has remained in pretty good shape, largely brushing off the market-rattling trade war between the U.S. and China. And last week, the country’s GDP was unexpectedly revised higher to 2.1 percent, boosted by stronger inventory and business investment.

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There are worrisome signs, however. On Wednesday, the latest ADP National Employment Report revealed that private employers added a meager 67,000 jobs in November, sharply missing expectations of 140,000. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing and non-manufacturing surveys also missed expectations this week.

"The slowdown has been more significant than I would have thought," Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi said during a conference call with reporters. "I do think that goes to the trade war. The trade war is doing damage to the economy."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its November jobs report at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday.

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