US job growth strong in November, wages rebound

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - U.S. job growth increased at a strong clip in November and wages rebounded, painting a portrait of a healthy economy that analysts say does not require the kind of fiscal stimulus that President Donald Trump is proposing.

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. Data for October was revised to show the economy adding 244,000 jobs instead of the previously reported 261,000.

Employment gains in October were boosted by the return to work of thousands of employees who had been temporarily dislocated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. November's report was the first clean reading since the storms, which also impacted September's employment data.

RELATED: High-paying jobs with worst divorce rates

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High-paying jobs with the worst divorce rates
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High-paying jobs with the worst divorce rates

10. Actuaries

Divorce rate: 17 percent

9. Physical scientists

Divorce rate: 18.9 percent

8. Medical/Life scientists

Divorce rate: 19.6 percent

7. Clergy

Divorce rate: 19.8 percent

6. Software developers

Divorce rate: 20.3 percent 

5. Physical Therapists

Divorce rate: 20.7 percent 

4. Optometrists

Divorce rate: 20.8 percent

3. Chemical engineers

Divorce rate: 21.1 percent

2. Directors (Religious activities and education)

Divorce rate: 21.3 percent

1. Physicians

Divorce rate: 21.8 percent

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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 average workweek rose to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in October.

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 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," Naroff said before the report was published.

RELATED: Highest-paying jobs for millennials 

10 PHOTOS
10 highest-paying jobs for millennials
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10 highest-paying jobs for millennials

10. Loan Officer

Average salary: $75,170

Work-life balance: above average

Stress level: average

Working for banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions, loan officers determine whether to approve loans for individuals and businesses. They collect financial information to assess whether applicants need money and how easily they will be able to repay those funds. Officers often specialize in the fields of consumer (given to individuals), commercial (given to businesses) and mortgage (given to purchase property) loans. They need to have strong instincts for sales and customer service. Some officers travel outside of office settings to meet with clients off site.

9. Accountant

Average salary: $75,280

Work-life balance: above average

Stress level: average

Sticklers for detail and deadlines, accountants prepare and assess financial documents. Most individuals come into contact with these professionals in the early spring around tax time, but accountants work year-round for companies and other institutions, keeping records up to date and ensuring compliance with reporting requirements. In addition to completing college coursework, many accountants take licensing exams to become certified. Depending on their specialties, they may have busy seasons, such as the end of a company's fiscal year. Organization and timeliness are essential to success in this field.

8. Operations Research Analyst

Average salary: $84,180

Work-life balance: average

Stress level: above average

People who love to solve puzzles and devise more efficient ways of working may thrive as operations research analysts. They use math and analytical tools to help businesses streamline their work and devise solutions to challenges. They may also conduct interviews with workers to gain a fuller understanding of how systems work. Operations research analysts often labor in teams with people who have expertise complementary to their own, so the ability to collaborate is important to the job. They also must be confident in their ability to make solid recommendations, since most business problems have many possible solutions.

7. Radiation Therapist

Average salary: $84,460

Work-life balance: above average

Stress level: below average

If the health care world interests you, but the prospect of completing medical school seems daunting, a career in radiation therapy could be a good option. These therapists work closely with patients to provide treatment for cancer. Using CT scans and X-rays and working closely with doctors and nurses, they discern where to target radiation and administer doses. They're responsible for keeping detailed records of their work. Being able to communicate compassionately with patients and their families is important to this role, which may appeal to millennials who want to aid others.

6. Environmental Engineer

Average salary: $88,040

Work-life balance: average

Stress level: average

For the nature-lover with a scientific bent, environmental engineering could be an attractive career path. People who work in this field apply biology, chemistry and engineering principles to design and build better systems for recycling, water use and pollution control. Their work affects not only the natural world but also public health and government policies. Although many environmental engineers spend time in office settings, they may have opportunities to travel to and work from outdoor locations where projects are underway. Beyond scientific training, environmental engineers should have strong communication skills.

5. Mechanical Engineer

Average salary: $88,190

Work-life balance: above average

Stress level: average

Love to see physical results from your hard work? You may appreciate the world of mechanical engineers, who dream up, construct and assess tools and machines. They develop and use cutting-edge technology at manufacturing companies and engineering firms, working on turbines, batteries, generators and engines. Mechanical engineers should be good at math, working in teams and applying creative thinking to solving real-world problems. Although they help produce tangible products, they use computer systems frequently in their work, so technical skills are important, too.

4. Computer Systems Analyst

Average salary: $90,180

Work-life balance: average

Stress level: average

Technology jobs don't have to be solitary. Computer systems analysts combine digital knowledge with customer service, working closely with business professionals to learn the ins and outs of their company needs and the technological possibilities that can address them. After selecting appropriate solutions, computer systems analysts help install digital systems and train other workers how to use them. These information science specialists often develop expertise in topics like health care or finance and may work directly for corporations or as consultants.

3. Software Developer

Average salary: $102,160

Work-life balance: above average

Stress level: average

The games on your smartphone, the computer programs essential to your job, the systems you use to edit photos and stream movies: These are all examples of software, technology that has built much of the contemporary world. Software developers are the architects of that technology, which makes their work exciting to some millennials. The profession requires computer coding skills, creativity and a tolerance for trial and error. The work can sometimes be done remotely, making it a good fit for a young worker hoping to establish a good work-life balance.

2. Actuary

Average salary: $110,560

Work-life balance: average

Stress level: average

In antiquity, the Greeks had oracles and the Chinese had fortunetellers. Today, businesses rely on actuaries to discern probable outcomes. Actuaries don't actually predict the future, of course, but they use statistics and financial theory to assess the likelihood that specific events will come to pass. They identify risks and create policies designed to minimize the costs of those risks. Actuaries often work for insurance companies, where their expertise helps set profitable rates for various insurance plans. In addition to strong math skills, actuaries need a solid understanding of computer science and databases.

1. Financial Advisor

Average salary: $118,050

Work-life balance: average

Stress level: above average

From assessing stock options to reviewing taxes to making recommendations about retirement savings, financial advisors help clients make the most of their resources. They often have backgrounds in business, economics or psychology and should be good listeners who can explain complex systems clearly. When not directly advising clients, many financial advisors have to market their services through networking and making presentations. About a fifth of financial advisors are self-employed, and many work during the evenings and on weekends, which may appeal to millennials who want to set their own schedules and preserve a good work-life balance.

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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.

The economy grew at a 3.3 percent annualized rate in the third quarter, the fastest in three years.

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While November's employment report will probably have little impact on expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its Dec. 12-13 policy meeting, it could help shape the debate on monetary policy next year.

The U.S. central bank has increased borrowing costs twice this year and has forecast three rate hikes in 2018.

Employment growth has averaged 174,000 jobs per month this year, down from the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016. A slowdown in job growth is normal when the labor market nears full employment.

The economy needs to create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population. The unemployment rate has declined by seven-tenths of a percentage point this year. Economists believe that the tightening labor market will unleash a faster pace of wage growth next year.

That, combined with the tax cuts, would help to boost inflation. The growth in employment was broad in November. Construction payrolls increased by 24,000 jobs, thanks in part to rebuilding efforts in the areas devastated by the hurricanes, after rising 10,000 in October.

Manufacturing scored another month of solid job gains, with payrolls increasing by 31,000 jobs after rising 23,000 in the prior month. Retail payrolls grew by 18,700 jobs last month, the largest gain since January, likely boosted by hiring for the holiday season.

Retailers, including Macy's Inc, reported strong Black Friday sales. Macy's said this month it would hire an additional 7,000 temporary workers for its stores to deal with heavy customer traffic in the run-up to Christmas. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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