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US Economy Gains New Jobs; Unemployment at 7-year Low

  • VOA News

The U.S. economy had a net gain of 211,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate held steady at a 7½-year low of 5 percent.

Friday's government report says job gains were seen in construction, professional services, and health care. Mining and some media companies lost jobs.

U.S. businesses have added 13.7 million jobs in a little less than six years, but White House economic adviser Jason Furman says, “We have more work to do.”

Nearly 8 million Americans are still out of work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and another 6.1 million can only get part-time work, though they want full-time employment.

Average wages rose 2.3 percent over the past year.

The job gains are stronger than most economists expected, and support the case for the U.S. central bank to raise the key interest rate later this month.

"Not only are we looking for a rate increase in mid-December,” said’s Mark Hamrick, “but our quarterly survey at Bankrate found that 81 percent of private economists do believe that the Fed will raise rates a second time in the first half of 2016."

FILE - A construction worker pulls his safety rope while working on the roof of an apartment complex being built in Spring, Texas, March 27, 2015.

FILE - A construction worker pulls his safety rope while working on the roof of an apartment complex being built in Spring, Texas, March 27, 2015.

Record-low rates

During the recession, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to a record low to boost economic growth and jobs.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen told Congress on Thursday that she is seeing a lot of economic data showing the recovering economy no longer needs such help.

Yellen also said the economy needs a net gain of about 100,000 jobs to accommodate new entrants to the economy, and the new jobs have been created at a faster rate than that for some time.

Shift in outlook

Friday's upbeat report on the job market may help counter results of a recent survey of business executives that suggests reduced expectations for profit and growth, mostly because of increased domestic competition and a slowdown in manufacturing output.

"If we see a strong holiday season, that will also impact people's mood and people's outlook,” said Valerie Rainey of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “So once we start to have a few more of these facts over the next couple of weeks, I think you're going to see people start to feel much better than perhaps they did at the point they were taking the survey."

Additionally, a new study headed by Georgetown University suggests an improving employment trend as baby boomers retire.

"Over the next ten years, if the economy continues to grow, we'll probably create about 50 million job openings in the United States,” said Anthony Carnevale, professor at Georgetown. “More than 30 million of those job openings will come from baby boomer retirements."

However, analysts warn that external factors from a slowdown in China to increased terrorism could erase economic gains — even in the world's largest economy.

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