WASHINGTON -- U.S. private employers added jobs at a fairly brisk clip in November, suggesting a slowing global economy is having a limited impact on domestic activity.
The steady pace of hiring, however, has yet to translate into stronger wage growth. Other data Wednesday showed sharp downward revisions to compensation in the second and third quarters, suggesting the Federal Reserve had room to maintain its low interest rate policy for a while.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls increased by 208,000 last month. While that was slightly below Wall Street's expectations for an increase of 221,000 jobs, October's payrolls were revised to show 3,000 more positions added than previously reported.
%VIRTUAL-pullquote-The labor market continues to make steady progress.%Private employers have now added jobs for 57 straight months at an average rate of about 186,000 per month.
"The labor market continues to make steady progress," Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute, said on a conference call following the release of the data.
In separate report, the Labor Department said unit labor costs, the price of labor for any given unit of production, fell at a 1 percent rate in the third quarter. They had previously been reported to have increased at a 0.3 percent pace.
Unit labor costs for the second quarter were also revised down to show them declining at a steeper 3.7 percent rate instead of the previously reported 0.5 percent pace.
That should ease fears that wage growth is rising a little bit faster than the Fed's expectations and cause the U.S. central bank to wait longer to raise interest rates.
U.S. Treasury debt prices rose on the data. U.S. stock index futures were little changed, while the dollar was up against a basket of currencies.
Wage growth is one of the key factors that will determine when the Fed will start raising its short-term interest rate, which it has kept near zero since December 2008.
Compensation per hour increased at a 1.3 percent rate in the third quarter rather the 2.3 percent pace reported last month.
Compared to the third quarter of last year, hourly compensation rose 2.2 percent instead of the 3.3 percent advance reported last month.
Nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, expanded at a 2.3 percent annual rate instead of the previously reported 2 percent pace.
-Additional reporting by Dan Burns in New York.
9 Numbers That'll Tell You How the Economy's Really Doing
ADP: Private Sector Adds 208,000 Jobs in November
The gross domestic product measures the level of economic activity within a country. To figure the number, the Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the total consumption of goods and services by private individuals and businesses; the total investment in capital for producing goods and services; the total amount spent and consumed by federal, state, and local government entities; and total net exports. It's important, because it serves as the primary gauge of whether the economy is growing or not. Most economists define a recession as two or more consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP.
The CPI measures current price levels for the goods and services that Americans buy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects price data on a basket of different items, ranging from necessities like food, clothing and housing to more discretionary expenses like eating out and entertainment. The resulting figure is then compared to those of previous months to determine the inflation rate, which is used in a variety of ways, including cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other government benefits.
The unemployment rate measures the percentage of workers within the total labor force who don't have a job, but who have looked for work in the past four weeks, and who are available to work. Those temporarily laid off from their jobs are also included as unemployed. Yet as critical as the figure is as a measure of how many people are out of work and therefore suffering financial hardship from a lack of a paycheck, one key item to note about the unemployment rate is that the number does not reflect workers who have stopped looking for work entirely. It's therefore important to look beyond the headline numbers to see whether the overall workforce is growing or shrinking.
The trade deficit measures the difference between the value of a nation's imported and exported goods. When exports exceed imports, a country runs a trade surplus. But in the U.S., imports have exceeded exports consistently for decades. The figure is important as a measure of U.S. competitiveness in the global market, as well as the nation's dependence on foreign countries.
Each month, the Bureau of Economic Analysis measures changes in the total amount of income that the U.S. population earns, as well as the total amount they spend on goods and services. But there's a reason we've combined them on one slide: In addition to being useful statistics separately for gauging Americans' earning power and spending activity, looking at those numbers in combination gives you a sense of how much people are saving for their future.
Consumers play a vital role in powering the overall economy, and so measures of how confident they are about the economy's prospects are important in predicting its future health. The Conference Board does a survey asking consumers to give their assessment of both current and future economic conditions, with questions about business and employment conditions as well as expected future family income.
The health of the housing market is closely tied to the overall direction of the broader economy. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, named for economists Karl Case and Robert Shiller, provides a way to measure home prices, allowing comparisons not just across time but also among different markets in cities and regions of the nation. The number is important not just to home builders and home buyers, but to the millions of people with jobs related to housing and construction.
Most economic data provides a backward-looking view of what has already happened to the economy. But the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index attempts to gauge the future. To do so, the index looks at data on employment, manufacturing, home construction, consumer sentiment, and the stock and bond markets to put together a complete picture of expected economic conditions ahead.