Bullish U.S. jobs report keeps Fed on track for mid-2015 rate hike

Fri Dec 5, 2014 2:04pm EST
 
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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. employers added the largest number of workers in nearly three years in November and wage gains picked up, a sign of economic strength that could draw the Federal Reserve closer to raising interest rates.

Nonfarm payrolls surged by 321,000, the most since January 2012, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate held steady at a six-year low of 5.8 percent.

"This greenlights a Fed lift-off in mid-2015," said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica in Dallas.

Data for September and October were revised to show 44,000 more jobs created than previously reported, adding more sparkle to the report. November's job gains blew past Wall Street's expectations for an increase of only 230,000.

It marked the 10th straight month that job growth has exceeded 200,000, the longest stretch since 1994 and further confirmation the economy is weathering slowdowns in China and the euro zone, as well as a recession in Japan.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed exports increased 1.2 percent in October, helping to slightly narrow the trade deficit. Exports to the European Union, China and Japan all increased.

The economy added 2.65 million jobs over the last 11 months, surpassing the 2.33 million created in 2013.

"The economy is literally blasting off. It's heading in the right direction and the outlook is a solid one," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York.   Continued...

 
Job seekers adjust their paperwork as they wait in line to attend a job fair in New York February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson