States and cities keep reporting new record-high COVID-19 cases, but hiring continues as unemployment claims fell last week by 75,000. Continuing claims fell by 569,000.

However, November only added 245,000 jobs.

Jobs Report

Experts predicted 440,000 jobs in November.

The Household Survey Data section is a complete rollercoaster. Hey, here’s some good news! But now you get bad news.

Look at unemployment rates.

Unemployment went down to 6.7%, down from 6.9%. Not bad, right? Well, the unemployment rate for adult women declined, but the rate for other major groups did not budge or had little change.

The labor force participation rate declined to 61.5%. Yet, those who work full-time went up by 752,000. But those who want a job and are not in the labor force also went up 448,000 to 7.1 million.

It’s the holiday season, right? Gift-giving galore! But the retail sector lost 35,000 jobs:

In November, retail trade lost 35,000 jobs, reflecting less seasonal hiring in several retail industries. Employment decreases occurred in general merchandise stores (-21,000); sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-12,000); electronics and appliance stores (-11,000); and health and personal care stores (-8,000). By contrast, furniture and home furnishings stores and automobile dealers added 6,000 jobs and 4,000 jobs, respectively. Employment in retail trade is 550,000 lower than in February.

The leisure and hospitality, the arts, food services and drinking places, mining, and information sectors hardly changed since October.

The labor market lost 22 million jobs when the pandemic started earlier this year. It has brought back “more than half” of those jobs while America’s “economy overall also has recovered much of the ground lost.”

Unemployment Claims

The numbers are so confusing. The jobs report shows a very slow economic recovery, but the unemployment claims numbers increased for the second week in a row.

First-time unemployment claims came in at 712,000 last week. The previous week saw 787,000 with continuing claims dropping 569,000:

Thursday’s report showed continuing claims, an approximation for the number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, decreased by 569,000 to about 5.52 million for the week ended Nov. 21. That is the lowest level since March and well below a peak of 24.9 million in May—but still three times the pre-pandemic level.

The figure doesn’t precisely equal to individual workers receiving benefits because, in some cases, a single person can claim retroactive payments for more than one week of benefits, the department said this week.

The number receiving benefits through the pandemic unemployment assistance program, which is open to gig workers and others who don’t typically receive benefits, fell in the Nov. 14 week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The number receiving extended benefits because they exhausted other programs increased.

 

 
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