U.S. employers added 228,000 jobs last month, and the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.
The Labor Department’s report Friday supports expectations that the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates next week, and could set the stage for even higher rates next year.
Average wage gains picked up slightly in November from October, but nonetheless remained at a 2.5 percent annual rate of increase despite hopes that the tightening labor market would generate faster pay increases.
Manufacturing had another strong month of hiring, as did business and professional services. The construction industry and health-care services also had a good month. Retailers added a middling number of jobs.
Last month’s payroll gains followed an increase of 244,000 jobs in October. Both months’ numbers were likely inflated somewhat, making up for job growth that had fallen in September because of the hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
With the November statistics, monthly job growth has averaged 170,000 the past three months and 174,000 for all of this year. That is down from the 187,000 average gains per month in 2016, but still a rate of growth that, if it continues, is likely to pull more people into the labor force and push down the unemployment rate.