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November Sees Weak Hiring But More Labor Recruits

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Labor + Trade Relations

November Sees Weak Hiring But More Labor Recruits

What a contradictory November report means for an industry combating a massive labor shortage


December 8, 2021
Worker shortage
Image: Stock.adobe.com

Employers across the US recorded the year’s weakest month of hiring in November with only 210,000 jobs added on a seasonally adjusted basis, though the overall proportion of Americans who have a job or are looking for one rose by 2 percentage points, The New York Times reports.

Economists expected the total number of jobs added to exceed half a million, but instead noticed a contradictory trend: weak hiring but a surge in the labor force. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent, and some businesses reported strong job growth, but many workers have yet to return to the labor force post-pandemic, and some businesses are still struggling to rebound after a dire financial year.

The contradictory data presents President Biden and policymakers with new complications, particularly with Omicron’s potential impact yet to be established. The report also offers few clues to businesses about the months ahead.

Consumer confidence readings have been at a low ebb, but Americans have been on a spending spree, and investors seem unperturbed. Stocks declined on Friday but remain near record highs

Job gains in businesses requiring face-to-face contact — like stores, restaurants, bars and hotels — were especially soft last month. Retail employment dropped by 20,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis, while hiring in leisure and hospitality industries rose by 23,000, compared with a gain of 170,000 in October.

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