The Bureau of Labor Statistics' November jobs report is out — and it’s full of good news. A solid 203,000 new jobs were created in November, including 196,000 in the private sector, 27,000 of which were new manufacturing jobs.
The headline unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent, from 7.3 percent in October. The stubbornly high underemployment rate — which includes people who are working part-time and those who have stopped looking for work altogether — fell even more, to 13.2 percent, from 13.8 percent.
Normally, 7.0 percent unemployment wouldn't be associated with a strong economy.
But such a big fall — coupled with the strong GDP growth figures announced yesterday — suggests that the economy is finally getting back on the right track after a long, difficult slog that has meant high unemployment and weak growth for the last five years.
Many are saying that with stronger growth and lower unemployment, now is the time for the Federal Reserve to cease its monetary stimulus. Certainly, the economy is healing. But 7.0 percent unemployment is not the time to stop. The economy finally has some traction! Having the Fed change its policies now would only undo that progress.
Inflation remains very low, by some measures the lowest its been in the last half-century. Until inflation rises above the Fed’s two percent inflation target, the central bank can continue to work on getting the unemployment rate down below five percent — or even lower.