Payrolls in U.S. Decline 11,000; Unemployment at 10%

Employers in the U.S. cut the fewest jobs in November since the recession began and the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell, signaling the recovery is lifting the labor market out of the worst employment slump in the post-World War II era.

Payrolls fell by 11,000 workers, figures from the Labor Department showed. The jobless rate declined to 10 percent.

The Obama administration, under pressure after almost half of the 7.2 million jobs lost during the recession occurred since the president’s inauguration, is considering additional measures to boost job growth. Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, has pledged to maintain record-low interest rates until joblessness subsides, even as a recovery takes hold.

Revisions added 159,000 from payroll figures previously reported for October and September. The October reading was revised to show a 111,000 drop in jobs compared with an initially reported 190,000 decline.

The smaller-than-expected decline in payrolls was accompanied by gains in hours worked, wages and staffing at temporary employment agencies, signs companies may soon begin to hire full-time workers.

The number of temporary workers increased 52,000 in November, the biggest since October 2004 and the fourth straight rise. Payrolls at temporary-help agencies often turn up before total employment because companies prefer to see a steady increase in demand before taking on permanent staff.

The average work week grew to 33.2 hours in November from 33 hours, the biggest rise since March 2003. Average weekly earnings rose to $622.17.

Some companies are adding workers. Infosys Technologies Ltd., India’s second-largest software exporter by revenue, plans to add 1,000 employees in the U.S. in the next four to five quarters, said Chief Financial Officer V. Balakrishnan.

Government adjustments subtracted 91,000 jobs from the unadjusted November payroll number, about in line with the historical figure. This indicates the seasonal adjustment issue may not have played much of a role in last month’s data.

Today’s report showed factory payrolls fell 41,000 after decreasing 51,000 in the prior month. The decline included a drop of 6,300 jobs in auto manufacturing and parts industries.

Payrolls at builders declined 27,000 after falling 56,000. Financial firms decreased payrolls by 10,000 for a second month.

Service industries, which include banks, insurance companies, restaurants and retailers, added 58,000 workers after adding 2,000. Retail payrolls decreased by 14,500 after a 44,200 drop. Government payrolls increased by 7,000 after a 46,000 rise in the prior month.

The so-called underemployment rate -- which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking -- fell to 17.2 percent from 17.5 percent.

Payrolls in U.S. Decline 11,000; Unemployment at 10%, Bloomberg
12/4/2009 9:09:21 AM