The news: Early this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its unemployment report for November 2013 – and it was very good news.
The unemployment rate dropped last month from 7.3% to a flat 7%, the lowest it has been since November 2008, exactly five years ago.
Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics
The United States added 203,000 jobs in November, beating predictions of 185,000. That, on top of upward revisions in the previous two months’ numbers by 8,000, means the economy is indeed improving, albeit slowly.
Why this matters: Though unemployment has been dropping fairly steadily as of late, it was for the wrong reasons. The unemployment rate was decreasing because the labor force participation rate – those with a job or actively looking for one – was also declining. In other words, the unemployment rate wasn’t dropping because unemployed people were getting jobs, it was because they were dropping out of the work force altogether.
But in November, the labor force actually grew, by 455,000 individuals. Which means the decrease in unemployment this month is actually substantial. The economy is growing.
The numbers for millennials are, as is typical, slightly higher. According to Generation Opportunity, the unemployment rate for ages 18-29 is 10% (15.9% if you adjust for the labor force participation rate). The BLS report has the unemployment rate for teenagers at 20.8%. But that's down 1.4% from a month ago and almost 3% since last year.
Still, there is reason for millennials to be particularly invested in the Federal Reserve’s upcoming decision on tapering its bond buying. Even with the economy improving, growth is slow – and fragile – enough that making significant adjustments to monetary policy could put a halt on it. Especially for millennials graduating and looking for a first job, the growth indicated in this jobs report needs to continue. The November jobs numbers mean that we’re doing something right. Now isn’t the time to stop doing whatever that is.
Yes, take heart in these jobs numbers. They’re good, and promising for future growth. Unemployment is the lowest in five years and the labor force is growing, but that doesn’t mean we’re out of trouble just yet. Let’s hope December’s numbers are just as good.