In a report from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government noted that payroll growth significantly exceeded the expectations of economists in November 2014. A survey of economists had predicted jobs growth of 228,000, while the ultimate tally ended up being 321,000 jobs. Due to the unexpected employment gain, 2014 has resulted in the best job growth since 1999 and has kept the unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, a 1.2 percent drop year-on-year.
Typically, a month that posts more than 200,000 new jobs is considered to be a strong one by economists, so the gains for November were particularly noteworthy. The retail trade was a major contributor to growth, adding 50,000 jobs on the backs of large companies like Wal-Mart and Kohl’s, each of which hired more seasonal help than they did in 2013. Companies like FedEx and UPS also beefed up more for the holidays than they did last year.
While growth exceeded expectations, economists were not particularly surprised. They see businesses as finally doing the hiring that they put off when the economic recovery seemed less certain. Economists have also noted strong overall hiring on top of the seasonal growth that comes around the holidays every year.
While growth in the overall job market was seen as an encouraging sign for job seekers, wage growth has remained stubbornly slow. While wages rose by 0.4 percent in November, beating their recent trends and posting the best single month for wage increases since 2013, overall wage growth for this year is just 2.1 percent, and the median weekly wage is nearly unchanged from 2007.
Wage growth has not been evenly distributed, either. The wholesale and retail trade have seen wages drop, as have the hospitality and leisure industries. The reductions have hit millennials – many of whom hold jobs in those sectors – particularly hard. Still, economists are hopeful that as the labor market tightens, companies will begin offering better wages in order to attract the best workers.