WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Employers in the United States continued to ramp up hiring in November despite high inflation and sluggish growth in the economy, a sign of resilience in the face of a sharp interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve.
The Labor Department reported on Friday that the economy added 263,000 jobs while the unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, still near a 53-year low. November’s job growth slowed only slightly from October’s gain of 284,000.
Last month represented a substantial increase in hiring. Throughout the year, when inflation soared and the Federal Reserve imposed ever-higher interest rates, the US job market defied skeptics, adding hundreds of thousands of jobs month after month.
The strength of the hiring increase in November will raise concerns that the Fed will have to keep rates higher longer than many had anticipated. The reaction on Wall Street was immediate, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures falling nearly 400 points.
As employers continued to work, wages continued to rise. In November, average hourly wages rose 5.1% from a year earlier, a sharp increase that could complicate the US central bank’s efforts to curb inflation.
This week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell insisted in a speech that jobs and wages were rising too fast for the central bank to rein in inflation. The Fed has raised its benchmark rate from near zero to nearly 4% in March to try to nudge the inflation rate back toward its 2% annual target.
Meanwhile, steady hiring and rising wages have helped American households boost the economy. In October, consumer spending grew at a healthy pace even after adjusting for inflation. Americans increased purchases of automobiles, restaurant meals, and other services.
The US economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.9% in the last quarter, after contracting in the first six months of the year. Besides strength in consumer spending, a rise in exports helped propel growth.