The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, driving the unemployment rate down slightly to 6.7 percent. It’s the slowest rate of positive job growth since the pandemic hit and considered a miss by economic forecasts.
At the end of the month, there were still 10.7 million unemployed individuals, down from the pandemic peak but still 4.9 million higher than in February. The number of permanently unemployed individuals has remained mostly unchanged since October while any month-to-month gains were mostly in temporary unemployment, at a rate that continues to fall.
“These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a statement. “However, the pace of improvement in the labor market has moderated in recent months.”
With mortgage rates at an all-time low, the unemployment picture becomes even more important for the stengh of the housing market, which has so far exceeded expectations after hitting the brakes in the early parts of the year.
“The housing market has been soaring despite the subdued job market due to the record low mortgage rates,” Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “However, the rates will not fall further, so the jobs recovery becomes even more important to sustain homebuying”
The real estate sector — which includes rental and leasing — only added 8,500 jobs on a seasonally adjusted rate in November and actually lost 3,000 jobs if unadjusted for seasonality. That segment of the economy is employing more than 100,000 fewer individuals than November 2019, according to sector-level data.
The construction sector added 27,000 jobs, which could mean help for an inventory-starved real estate market.
“A notable bright spot was the gain in construction jobs in the residential sector, another sign that the strong housing market continues to lead the overall economy,” Mike Fratantoni, chief economist of the Mortgage Banker’s Association, said in a statement.