The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent for November. But the good news is that the upward bound jobs number may serve as the Federal Reserve’s cue to finally raise interest rates.
The Labor Department reported on Friday that the unemployment rate for November was the same as October. But nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 jobs in November. That is great news headed into the holidays.
“Job gains occurred in construction, professional and technical services and health care,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a news release. “Mining and information lost jobs.”
The number of persons unemployed was 7.9 million. The breakout shows that joblessness hits some parts of the country harder than others. The unemployment rates for adult males was 4.7 percent; adult females, 4.6 percent; whites, 4.3 percent; African Americans, 9.4 percent; Asians, 3.9 percent; and Hispanics, 6.4 percent. Teenagers had the highest jobless rate at 15.7 percent.
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People who were long-term unemployed — 2.1 million Americans who’ve been 27 weeks or more without work despite efforts to find a job — represented 25.7 percent of the unemployed.
The numbers have to be encouraging for the Obama administration. When Barack Obama took office as president in January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7 percent.
It increased to 9.4 percent in August 2009, a 30-year high. It slowly began to peel down in 2011, hitting 8 percent in January 2012, and 7.8 percent in February 2012.
Although stuck at 5 percent, the number of jobs created in November is a positive.
That has to be more fuel for the Federal Reserve to this month raise interest rates from near zero. The rate had been held low to spur the recovery of the economy. But it has hurt people who depend on interest earnings from savings.
The benchmark interest rate has been at zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008. The Fed last raised interest rates in June 2006. The recovering economy and increasing number of jobs are a good signal for the Federal Reserve to finally act.
Now lawmakers need to finally raise the minimum wage nationally from $7.25 to $15 an hour. That’s long overdue, too. That was last increased in 2009.