US hiring stumbles in November as economy adds just 210,000 new jobs

How are markets reacting to jobs report?

NatWest Markets co-head of global economics Michelle Girard, Mayflower Advisors managing partner Larry Glazer and MoffettNathanson partner Lisa Ellis discuss how COVID, the latest jobs report and the Federal Reserve’s actions impact the markets. 

U.S. job growth significantly undershot expectations in November, suggesting that difficulty in attracting new workers is weighing on the labor market's recovery from the pandemic, even as COVID-19 cases dissipate nationwide. 

The Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday that payrolls in November rose by just 210,000, well below the 550,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. The unemployment rate (which is calculated based on a separate survey) dropped more than expected to 4.2% from 4.6% — the lowest level since the pandemic began.

The labor had been gaining momentum after a delta-induced slowdown over the summer, but the latest figure marks a significant drop from October's upwardly revised number of 546,000 and September's upwardly revised 379,000. There are still about 3.9 million fewer jobs than there were last February, before the crisis began. 

"Today's employment report is doubly disappointing, because the reference week occurred just as it looked like Covid was on the retreat," said Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist. "This was a moment for people to return to malls and to return to work. The Covid-related news has only gotten worse since then."

The job growth stumble comes before the emergence of the newly identified omicron variant of COVID-19, which could jeopardize the global economy's recovery. There is still a lack of clarity over how dangerous the new variant is, including whether it is more transmissible or capable of causing more severe illness. Early evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection. 

Public health officials have urged caution against panic. 

But the economic impacts of the new strain – which has been found in at least 24 countries including the U.S. – have already been felt, with the U.S. and at least 10 European nations suspending air travel from southern Africa. The 27-nation European Union also recommended an "emergency brake" on travel from southern Africa, citing the "very concerning" new variant.

Surveys for the November jobs report were conducted about three weeks ago, before the new variant was detected.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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