The U.S. economy added new positions and then some last month as General Motors’ (GM) - Get General Motors Company Report workers went back to the factory floor and as businesses continued to add on workers, the Labor Department reported on Friday.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 266,000 new positions were added to the economy last month, far above economists' forecasts of a 180,000 gain. The unemployment rate slipped back down to 3.5%, the lowest since 1969.
U.S. stocks surged at the open of trading on Friday on expectations the Federal Reserve's recent rate cuts combined with reviving growth globally will be enough to keep the 10-year-strong U.S. economic expansion humming along.
Indeed, the numbers provided the strongest indication yet that the U.S. economy has no intention of slowing down, despite uncertainty elsewhere in the world related to dwindling manufacturing and the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.
“This is a blowout number, and the U.S. economy continues to be all about the jobs,” said Tony Bedikian, Head of Global Markets, Citizens Bank. “The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low and wages are increasing. Business owners may be getting more cautious due to trade and political uncertainty and growth may be slow, but consumers keep spending and the punch bowl still seems full.”
Average hourly earnings climbed 0.2% on a monthly basis, in line with analysts’ forecasts, and 3.1% year-on-year, above analysts’ forecasts of 3%. Wages advanced 3.1% from a year earlier, an improvement from the prior month’s pace.
Hiring was strong in health care, restaurants and transportation jobs, the Labor Department said. Manufacturers added 54,000 jobs in November, 41,000 of which were in auto manufacturing. General Motors workers, who were on strike in October, helped drive the blistering rebound.
Payrolls for October and September were revised up by 41,000 - to 193,000 from 180,000 in October and from 128,000 to 156,000 in September, the Labor Department said.
Jobs have grown an average 205,000 per month in the three months through November. That compares with average monthly job growth of 223,000 in 2018.
After cutting interest rates three times this year on concerns that slowing global growth could negatively impact the U.S. economy, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and other central bankers have signalled they are now in wait-and-see mode, suggesting they will leave rates on hold at the conclusion of their final meeting next week.
“Forget about a goldilocks report, this was a gangbusters report," said Michael Hewson, chief strategist with electronic trading platform and CFD specialist CMC Markets. "I also think this confirms that maybe the October rate cut was a little bit premature.”
"In one word: Astonishing," echoed Pantheon Macroeconomics' Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson.