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Employers added 321,000 jobs last month and workers see slightly better pay

Decrease In Unemployment Claims Shows Economy Continuing To ImproveDecrease In Unemployment Claims Shows Economy Continuing To Improve

The Labor Department released last month’s employment figures Friday morning, and the report shows that the U.S. labor market has continued to post steady gains while some stubborn weak points still exist. Here are some key points from the November jobs report.

What you need to know: November was the 50th straight month of job gains in the U.S., and monthly job additions have averaged about 224,000 so far this year. The job market has been steadily improving, which is good news. However, on the downside, hourly wages are struggling to increase significantly and the number of long-term unemployed remains almost 50% higher than it was before the recession hit.

The Federal Reserve, which had continually worried that the labor market is not as healthy as it hoped nearly seven years after the start of the Great Recession, eased up on its view following its October meeting. The job market slump is “gradually diminishing,” and the Fed expects the U.S. economy to continue expanding at “a moderate pace.”

The big numbers: The U.S. labor market added 321,000 jobs in November, well surpassing of economists’ estimates of 230,000 jobs, according to Bloomberg data. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.8%.

Hourly wages ticked up by 9 cents last month, while the number of long-term unemployed was little changed at 2.8 million. Hourly pay is up 2.1% for the year, which is only marginally above the 1.7% inflation rate as of October.

What you may have missed: November’s gains keep the U.S. labor market on track for its best annual performance since 1999. That year an average 265,000 Americans found jobs every month. The November job additions are significantly higher than the recent three-month average of 224,000 jobs per month.

Some of the biggest job gains last month went to the professional and business as well as healthcare sectors, which added 86,000 and 29,000 jobs, respectively. Retail hiring also accelerated as stores geared up for the current holiday season.

Employment gains for September and October were both adjusted higher than initially reported, adding up to an additional 44,000 jobs over the two months. September non-farm payrolls increased to 271,000 from 256,000, and October gains increased to 243,000 from 214,000 jobs.