Cities That Added the Most Jobs in 2018

A coffee shop in Greenville South Carolina.- Joshua Rodriguez  Unsplash

A coffee shop in Greenville South Carolina.- Joshua Rodriguez Unsplash

US employers slowed their pace of hiring in November, but wage growth matched the highest rate in almost a decade and unemployment held at a very low level, showing the labor market remains a pillar of strength even as the stock market and other economic signals flash caution.

The gains kept the unemployment rate unchanged at 3.7%, near record lows, according to the report.

Employers hired fewer people than forecast in November, according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

Hiring has averaged 195,000 a month for the past six months, modestly below an average of 212,000 in the previous six.

Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers increased 6 cents last month to $27.35. Year-over-year wage growth matched the prior month's 3.1% pace as the best rate since 2009.

The Labor Department reported Friday that nonfarm payrolls increased by 155,000 for the month, below economists' expectations of a 198,000 gain. Still, ongoing interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, a possible increase on tariffs with China, and weakening global growth have upset financial markets.

The economic analysis firm said in a client note that, should a single policymaker on the Fed's rate-setting committee take a softer stance, the median forecast for 2019 would then switch from three to two increases. Including November and revisions to September and October, employment growth averages 206,000 jobs per month in 2018-exceeding the average monthly gains in 2016 (195,000) and 2017 (182,000). And the rate for Americans with just high school diplomas dropped to 3.5 percent, the lowest since December 2000.

Hiring in November was led by health care firms, which added 40,100 jobs, and professional services such as accounting and engineering, which gained 32,000 positions. Transportation and warehousing payrolls rose by 25,400 jobs, driven by seasonal hiring. But most analysts anticipate the economy will still grow.

On Thursday, the payrolls processor ADP said in a report that job growth had most likely peaked for this cycle. Since President Trump was elected in November 2016, the USA economy has created 4.6 million jobs.

First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming said the uptick in wages may give the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates this month, although Fed Chair Jerome Powell has hinted that the central bank could be less aggressive on the rate front in the future.

October's jobs numbers were also revised down slightly, to put the monthly average over the past year at about 204,000 jobs, and the average over the last quarter at 170,000.

In the Federal Reserve's most recent Beige Book of anecdotes from across the U.S., several business owners said tariffs were raising their input costs - a trend that may slow their pace of hiring in a jobs market that's already tight. "However, it's hard to expect the economy to sustain over 200,000 jobs each month while maintaining such a low unemployment rate, especially given the impact of wildfires and the continuation of tariffs and trade policy changes".

The housing market, though, has stumbled this year as the Fed's rate hikes have contributed to sharply higher mortgage rates.

Minutes of the Fed's November policy meeting published last week showed almost all officials agreed another rate increase was "likely to be warranted fairly soon", but also opened debate on when to pause further hikes. The unemployment rate for men aged 20 and above fell last month to 3.3 percent, the lowest level seen in 18 years.

Retail employment rose by 18,200 jobs in November, likely boosted by an early Thanksgiving.

But an unusually cold November slowed hiring at construction sites, with payrolls increasing by only 5,000 jobs after surging 24,000 in October.

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