Washington, Safar 22, 1437, Dec 4, 2015, SPA — U.S. job growth increased solidly in November and the unemployment rate held steady, the government reported Friday, making it highly likely that the Federal Reserve (Fed) will raise interest rates from record lows this month for the first time in nearly a decade.
The Labor Department said employers added 211,000 jobs last month, led by big gains in the service sector. The department also upwardly revised job creation in October and September by a combined 35,000.
Construction companies added 46,000 jobs in November, the most in two years, while retailers added 30,000. Government added 14,000 positions, but manufacturing lost 1,000 jobs and mining—which includes oil and natural-gas drilling—lost 11,000.
The unemployment rate held at a more than seven-year low of 5 percent for a second consecutive month. More Americans began looking for jobs in November, and most found them. The unemployment rate is in a range many Fed officials view as consistent with full employment and has fallen 0.7 percentage point this year.
Employers now have added an average of 213,000 jobs per month over the past six months. The healthy hiring indicates that steady consumer spending is fueling the economy even as weak growth overseas, a strong U.S. dollar, and continuing low oil prices hurt manufacturers and energy companies.
The closely watched job-creation report came one day after Fed Chair Janet Yellen was optimistic on the economy, describing how it largely had met the criteria the U.S. central bank has set for the Fed’s first interest-rate increase since mid-2006 after its December 15 and 16 meetings.
While job growth has been consistently solid, wage growth has been weak. Since the Great Recession ended more than six years ago, average hourly pay has grown at only two-thirds the pace typical of a healthy economy.
17:39 LOCAL TIME 14:39 GMT