WASHINGTON — American businesses have complained for years that they can’t find the workers they need to fill available jobs. November’s robust hiring gain suggests that at least some have found a way to do so.
With the unemployment rate now at a half-century low of 3.5%, many economists have also warned that hiring would soon slow simply because there are fewer unemployed workers available.
That day may still come, but it didn’t in November. Employers added 266,000 jobs last month, the most since January. Monthly hiring has, in fact, picked up since earlier this year: It averaged 205,000 for the past three months, up from a recent low of 135,000 in July.
Friday’s jobs report largely squelched fears of a recession that had taken hold in the summer. Steady job growth has helped reassure consumers that the economy is expanding and that their jobs and incomes remain secure. That should boost spending and growth in the months ahead.
President Donald Trump seized on the strong jobs report as he tries to focus voters’ attention on the state of the economy rather than the impeachment inquiry being led by House Democrats. The latest numbers also come as Trump’s trade war with China had prompted companies to cut back on their investments in plants and industrial equipment, slowing growth.
“Without the horror show that is the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, the Stock Markets and Economy would be even better, if that is possible, and the Border would be closed to the evil of Drugs, Gangs and all other problems! #2020,” the president tweeted.
He returned to the report later Friday, tweeting: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”
Employers seemed to be shrugging off economic concerns, adding jobs at a solid clip. And other risks to the global economy, such as a disorderly Brexit for the U.K., have faded in the past month. Given all that, the economy could provide a boost for Trump in next year’s election.
Investors cheered the report, sending the Dow Jones industrial average up 340 points in afternoon trading.
The new job numbers were released as companies have been getting more creative about enticing workers as the ranks of the unemployed dwindle. Some are willing to hire people who are less qualified and train them, while others are raising pay to attract more applicants. Still others are offering flexible work schedules or have dropped some drug-testing requirements.