A Booming Jobs Report

Ya think this sort of jobs report (as explained by the New York Times’ Nelson Schwartz) might have made a political difference had it occurred in, say, June?

After more than five years of elusive gains, ordinary Americans may finally be about to see the benefits of the recovery where it really counts: in their pocketbooks and wallets.

The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 321,000 jobs in November — a much stronger number than expected — but perhaps even more significant was the biggest gain in average hourly earnings since June 2013.

Hourly earnings rose by 0.4 percent in November, double what economists had been expecting even as the number of hours people were working ticked up a tenth as well. That gain in hourly pay was significantly above the measly 0.1 percent increase in October, let alone the unchanged number in September.

“The pairing of strong hiring and wage gains is a really strong indicator of the health of the economy,” said Tara Sinclair, chief economist at Indeed.com, a leading job search website. “Now, we want to see people coming back into the work force and also finding the right jobs for them in terms of wages, skills, and hours.”

What this also means, of course, that the people who want the Fed to tighten credit and deliberately slow down the economy have fresh ammunition. Where most of us see Jobs! Jobs! and are happy, others see Inflation! Inflation! and want to inflict misery as far as the eye can see.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.