The pace of hiring at companies slowed in November, according to this morning’s monthly update from the Labor Department. The softer-than-projected gain pared the year-over-year trend to a three month low. The economy’s still creating a healthy number of jobs, but today’s results reaffirm the view that US growth has peaked.
Economists were looking for a 183,000 rise in private payrolls, according to Econoday.com. The reported number was a moderately softer increase of 161,000. As a result, the year-over-year change in private employment slipped to 1.9%, matching The Capital Spectator’s projection based on a set of combination forecasts.
The slowdown in job creation aligns with expectations that fourth-quarter GDP growth is on track to slow. Although recession risk remains low for the US, based on recent data, the incoming numbers are supporting the case for expecting that the acceleration in economic output in the first half of 2018 will fade to a degree in the new year.
“It’s not like [November’s total (government and private) monthly employment gain of] 155,000 is a terrible number, but it’s below what people were looking for,” says Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase. In the wake of strong growth in this year’s first half, “we’re looking for growth to step down this quarter and you should probably also expect to see the labor market cool off some. It’s consistent with the economy coming off what people call a sugar rush.”
In any case, the outlook remains positive, if somewhat softer vs. this year’s stronger Q1 profile, notes Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics. “This is still a solid gain that suggests economic growth is gradually slowing back towards its potential pace,” says of November’s employment report. He adds that “there is nothing here to suggest the economy is suffering a more sudden downturn.”
The crowd will be watching next week’s key releases to decide if Ashworth’s optimism remains intact. In particular, keep your eye on a pair of hard-data updates for November: retail sales and industrial production, due for release next Friday (Dec. 14).