Digging Into November’s Job Data:  Two Surveys, Two Results

By at 3 December, 2021, 12:58 pm

by Raymond J. Keating –

At first glance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on employment in November is nothing to write home about. After all, the establishment survey pointed to a gain in nonfarm payrolls of only 210,000. Under normal conditions, that would be solid, but as we all know, these aren’t normal times. So, this 210,000-gain is deemed lackluster.

However, there are two surveys in each monthly jobs report, and the household survey, which better captures small business and startup activity, estimated far more robust gains in November.

Specifically, employment grew by 1.136 million in November. Plus, the labor force expanded by 594,000, with those not in the labor force declining by 473,000.

The labor force participation rate moved up from 61.6 percent in October to 61.8 percent in November.

In addition, the employment-population ratio jumped from 58.8 percent in October to 59.2 percent in November.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED

There’s still a great deal of work to be done.

For example, the labor force participation rate before the pandemic hit stood at 63.4 percent, and the employment-population ratio was at 61.1 percent. But there’s no denying that the household survey for November 2021 served up unequivocal good news. We saw strong job growth, and people moving off the sidelines back into the labor force.

Now, we need many more months of this kind of performance.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


News and Media Releases