USA job growth slowed in November and monthly wages increased less than forecast, suggesting some moderation in economic activity that could support expectations of fewer interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve in 2019.
Wages hit 3.1 percent growth over a year last month, the first time in almost a decade that wages have broken the 3 percent benchmark.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 155,000 jobs in November, continuing a historic streak of positive job gains, the BLS employer survey found.
On average, people in the leisure and hospitality category were employed for 26 hours per week, and the current average hourly wages were $16.19 per hour, up from $16.14 an hour the previous month.
The monthly gain in average hourly earnings for all private workers followed a downwardly revised 0.1 per cent increase, the report showed. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent for the third consecutive month, and hourly wages rose at an annual pace of 3.1 percent.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 155,000, extending the record streak of net job additions in the USA to its 98th month.
"This is the sort of jobs report that manages to both calm folks at the Fed a bit - no, we're not right on the cusp of overheating - while also continuing the narrative of robust ongoing jobs growth that will, if it continues, keep bringing unemployment down", said Justin Wolfers, a economist at the University of MI.
But the United States added an average of 206,000 jobs a month through the first 11 months of 2018, above the 182,000 pace during the same period a year ago. And the rate for Americans with just high school diplomas dropped to 3.5%, the lowest since December 2000. But most analysts anticipate the economy will still grow. Since President Trump was elected in November 2016, the US economy has created 4.6 million jobs.
"Rising wages is one of the factors likely to induce a Federal Reserve entrusted with controlling inflation to raise interest rates later this month", MarketWatch said.
However, the number of people "marginally attached" to the labor force - those who had looked for a job in the past year but stopped in the past month because they couldn't find one - has risen by almost 200,000 over the past year.
The employment report comes as soft October data on the housing market, business spending on equipment as well as a jump in the trade deficit to a 10-year high have heightened fears the economy is slowing.
Last month's jobs increase was down from the 237,000 jobs created in October, but higher than the 119,000 in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. An early Thanksgiving is expected to have boosted retail employment while transportation and warehousing payrolls probably rose, driven by seasonal hiring. The Fed is still expected to hike its federal funds rate but data showing an absence of inflationary pressures in the job market could mean less aggressive policy action in 2019. The unemployment rate for men aged 20 and above fell last month to 3.3 percent, the lowest level seen in 18 years.
Construction saw a steep slowdown in November, said Martha Gimbel, research director for the Hiring Lab at Indeed, an employment website. Payrolls at all levels of government fell by 6,000 last month.