State of the Labor Market

November Jobs Report: Employment Gains Widely Shared


The November jobs report showed that the labor market has strength and momentum. It’s not just a continued rebound from the hurricanes: last month was nearly the largest payroll gain of the year after excluding weather-sensitive sectors. After 86 straight months of job growth, the recovery is lifting even those who were left behind in the recession.

The gains are widely shared. The broadest measure of whether people are working — the prime-age employment population ratio — reached 79.0%, a post-recession high. Employment has risen most for people with a high-school degree or less, and wages rose most in lower-wage industries.

The labor market enters 2018 on a high note. Still, there might be room to improve. While the headline unemployment rate is back to its late-2000 level, broader employment measures aren’t there yet — and wage acceleration remains limited.

  • Middle-wage industries led payroll growth in November and over the past year. These were the industries that suffered most in the recession.

  • Wage growth strongest for lower-wage industries, narrowing wage gaps.

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