WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth increased at a strong clip in November, painting a portrait of a healthy economy that analysts say does not require the kind of fiscal stimulus that President Donald Trump is proposing, even though wage gains remain moderate.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 228,000 jobs last month amid broad gains in hiring as the distortions from the recent hurricanes faded, Labor Department data showed on Friday. The government revised data for October to show the economy adding 244,000 jobs instead of the previously reported 261,000 positions.
November’s report was the first clean reading since the storms, which also impacted September’s employment data.
Average hourly earnings rose five cents or 0.2 percent in November after dipping 0.1 percent the prior month. That lifted the annual increase in wages to 2.5 percent from 2.3 percent in October. Workers also put in more hours last month.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent amid a rise in the labor force. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls rising by 200,000 jobs last month.
The fairly upbeat report underscored the economy’s strength and could fuel criticism of efforts by Trump and his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Congress to slash the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. “The labor market is in great shape. Tax cuts should be used when the economy needs tax cuts and it doesn’t need tax cuts right now,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “When politics and economics are mixed in the stew, the policies that are created often have a very awful smell.” Republicans argue that the proposed tax cut package will boost the economy and allow companies to hire more workers. But with the labor market near full employment and companies reporting difficulties finding qualified workers, most economists disagree. Job openings are near a record high.
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