Source: John Carney

The U.S. economy added 210,00 jobs in November and the unemployment rate sank to 4.2 percent.

This was a far weaker jobs report than expected. Economists had forecast 545,000 positions added to payrolls and an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, according to Econoday.

The unemployment rates for adult men and adult women declined to 4.0 percent. The white unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent and the black unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent. The Hispanic unemployment rate declined to 5.2 percent. There was little change in the unemployment rates for Asians, at 3.8 percent, or teenagers, at 11.2 percent.

The labor force participation rate inched up to 61.8 percent in November but remains 1.5 percentage points lower than in February 2020. The employment-population ratio rose by 0.4 percentage point to 59.2 percent in November. This measure is up from its low of 51.3 percent in April 2020 but remains below the figure of 61.1 percent in February 2020.

Surprisingly, employment in retail trade declined by 20,000 in November. General merchandise stores shed 20,000 jobs, clothing stores shrank employment by 18,000, and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music store employment declined by 9,000. That raises questions about the strength of retail going into the holiday season.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents to $31.03. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have
increased by 4.8 percent, less than the rate of inflation. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 12 cents to $26.40.  The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hours to 34.8 hours in November. In manufacturing, the average workweek edged up by 0.1 hours to 40.4 hours, and overtime was unchanged at 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.1 hours.

The figures for September and October were revised up.

Seasonal adjustments were large in November. Before adjustments, the economy added 778,000 jobs. The retail sector added 331,000 jobs in November but with seasonal adjustments, this gets counted as a loss of 20,000 because Labor Department economists expected even more retail hiring in the holiday shopping season.