WASHINGTON (PAI) – The U.S. unemployment rate stayed unchanged in November, at 5.8 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Businesses claimed to create a net of 321,000 new jobs that month, a separate survey showed.
The number of unemployed actually rose by 115,000 in November, to 9.11 million, BLS said. But an equal number of workers found jobs, so the rate stayed unchanged, it added.
The big change, however, came in the number of people out of work at least six months – meaning those who have lost their federal jobless benefits. That figure dropped by 101,000 in November, to 2.815 million, or 30.7 percent of the unemployed.
While more people found jobs and businesses claimed to create them, wages are another matter, says Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute. They’re stuck, and stay low.
“It’s important to put these numbers in context. At this rate, we won’t return to pre-recession labor market health until October 2016, nearly nine years since the recession began,” she commented.
“There’s still substantial slack in the economy, as evidenced by still sluggish wage growth, a consistent theme of the recovery and indeed of the past three and a half decades. The labor market is still far from healthy, and Americans are not reaping the full benefits of the growing economy.
“In addition, there are millions of workers who left the labor force because job opportunities are too weak, and millions more employed workers who can’t change jobs or get the hours they need, and who haven’t seen a pay increase after years of hard work.”
The BLS numbers back her up. In November, one of every nine workers (11.4 percent) were jobless, forced to work part-time when they really want full-time jobs or had dropped out because they’ve become too discouraged to keep seeking work. That percentage was virtually unchanged from October.
Factories employed 12.22 million workers in November, 28,000 more than in October. Biggest gains were in plastics and rubber plants (+7,100), cars and parts (+3,000) and fabri-cated metal, such as steel (+2,200). That left 640,000 factory workers (4.2 percent) jobless.
Construction employed 6.11 million workers last month, 20,000 more than in October. All the gains were in specialty construction. But 629,000 construction workers (7.5 percent) were jobless, and union leaders say that’s an understatement. They note a worker toiling even a few hours on one day of the survey week is considered as employed for the whole month.
The biggest gains were in services, with low-paying sectors such as health care (+28,900 jobs), bars and restaurants (+26,500) and retail trade (+50,200) leading the way. Governments added a net of 7,000 jobs, led by gains at state colleges (+5,400).
Photo: In this Oct. 22, 2014 photo, job seekers fill out job applications at a job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla. Alan Diaz/AP