The US economy created only 199,000 jobs in November, far from the 440,000 expected by analysts, reflecting a difficult recovery in the US labor market, subject to the vagaries of the pandemic, the Labor Department announced on Friday. The unemployment rate nevertheless continued to fall more than expected, falling to 3.9% (-0.3 percentage point), thus approaching its pre-pandemic level (3.5%).
The disappointing job creations come on top of those in November, which were also well below economists’ expectations (249,000 revised upwards). These figures are all the more disappointing as the data was collected before the Omicron variant became widespread in the country. In addition, while the unemployment rate continues to fall for white, Asian and Hispanic people, it has increased for black people to 7.1% (+0.6 points).
18.8 million jobs recreated since April 2020
President Joe Biden, who has made jobs and reducing inequality a priority, was to comment on this report mid-morning. “Job growth averaged 537,000 per month in 2021“, said the labor department in a press release. Since April 2020, 18.8 million jobs have been recreated, but 3.6 million jobs are still missing compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In December, employment continued to grow in the leisure and hospitality sector where the pandemic is most severe, as well as in professional and business services, in industry, in construction and in transport and storage.
Nearly two years after the spread of Covid-19 in the United States, industries with face-to-face interactions, including leisure and hospitality, remain extremely vulnerable to levels of infection cases. Many companies have postponed back-to-office plans, sometimes indefinitely.
Restaurants and theaters are in an increasingly difficult situation due to chronic staff shortages and fears of new Omicron infections.
Some school districts have returned to remote learning, or are threatening to do so, making it difficult for women in particular to return to work.