The economy added 211,000 jobs in November, while the jobless rate held steady at 5% as more people entered the workforce. Construction firms added 46,000 jobs, retailers added 31,000 and restaurants added 32,000 workers. Job gains have averaged 210,000 a month so far this year.
The manufacturing sector slowed in November, as the ISM manufacturing index slipped to 48.6% – marking the lowest reading since June 2009. A measure of new orders declined, while a gauge of employment improved.
After two months of declines, pending home sales picked up .2% in October. According to the National Association of Realtors, “In the most competitive metro areas – particularly those in the South and West – affordability concerns remain heightened as low inventory continues to drive up prices… Unless sizeable supply gains occur for new and existing homes, prices and rents will continue to exceed wages into next year and hamstring a large pool of potential buyers trying to buy a home”.
Construction spending rose 1% to a $1.11 trillion rate in October, marking the highest level since December 2007.
Growth in the service sector slowed in November, as the ISM non-manufacturing index dropped to 55.9, marking the steepest monthly decline since November 2008. Measures of business activity, new orders and employment fell.
The trade deficit widened 3.4% to $43.9 billion in October as exports dropped 1.4% to $184.1 billion, the lowest level in three years, driven by a strong dollar and weak global growth. Exports of industrial supplies reached the lowest in five years, and petroleum exports fell to the lowest since 2010. Food exports hit the lowest since 2012. At the same time, imports slipped .6%.
Source: Census Bureau