WASHINGTON, A picture of strength painted by Friday’s U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report essentially guarantees an interest rate increase this month.
The monthly report said the economy added 211,000 private-sector jobs in November, and September and October increases were revised upward. The unemployment rate held at 5 percent. New jobs were concentrated in construction, professional and technical services, and health care.
“We have added more jobs over the past three years than in any three-year period since 2000, and wages are continuing to rise,” Jason Furman, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.
A strong showing by the labor market was the last requirement for a planned interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve, the first in nearly a decade. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has hinted a rate hike is imminent.
“It is a day that I expect we all are looking forward to,” she joked in her speech Wednesday to the Economic Club of Washington. “Ongoing gains in the labor market, coupled with my judgment that longer-term inflation expectations remain reasonably well anchored, serve to bolster my confidence in a return of inflation to 2 percent as the disinflationary effects of declines in energy and import prices wane.”
She said raising interest rates would indicate “how far our economy has come in recovering from the effects of the financial crisis and the Great Recession.”
Wages grew by 0.2 percent, the November BLS report said, making the 12-month change a disappointing 2.3 percent. A jump in pay would indicate workers were seeing gains in an economy slowly improving for six years.
By Ed Adamczyk