U.S. November nonfarm payrolls rise by 203,000 jobs; jobless rate drops to 5-year low
WASHINGTON—U.S. employers hired at a steady pace in November and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in five years, signs of a strengthening labor market that will intensify debate at the Federal Reserve about paring back bond purchases as early as this month.
U.S. payrolls rose by 203,000 last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percentage point to 7.0%, the lowest level since November 2008. September and October payroll numbers were revised up by a combined 8,000.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast nonfarm payrolls would rise by 180,000 and the unemployment rate would tick down to 7.2%.
Friday’s report will stoke expectations for the Fed to soon slow the pace of its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. At their October meeting, officials said they were looking to end the program “in coming months.”
“The 203,000 increase in November’s nonfarm payrolls, along with the drop in the unemployment rate to a five-year low of 7.0%, gives the Fed all the evidence it needs to begin tapering its asset purchases at the…meeting later this month,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.