U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in November, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story

Washington (PAI) — The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Businesses claimed to create 254,000 new jobs last month, while governments added 12,000.

The business gains included the 49,000 United Auto Workers who returned to General Motors after their forced, but successful, month-long strike.

BLS said there were 5.811 million unemployed people in November, 44,000 more than in October. BLS also reported if you add together the unemployed, those toiling part-time when they really want full-time work and those so discouraged they’ve stopped looking, one of every 14 workers (6.9 percent) is unemployed or underemployed.

Factories gained 54,000 jobs in November, to 12.87 million. Auto plant employment rose by 41,300 jobs, and 427,000 factory workers (2.7 percent) were jobless. That’s down 0.4 percent from October. All the factory numbers reflect the GM impact.

Construction companies added 1,000 jobs. There were 7.53 million employed construction workers, and 428,000 jobless ones (4.4 percent). That jobless rate rose 0.4 percent.

Other than GM, reported big job gains were, as usual, in the lowest-paying sectors: Health care and social services (+45,200), and bars and restaurants (+25,300). Retail trade usually picks up with the holiday shopping season, but this November it didn’t (+2,000 jobs). Clothing stores lost 17,800 jobs, and department stores added 12,000.

“Overall job growth is solid, but manufacturing is certainly taking a hit this year,” said Heidi Shierholz, senior analyst with the Economic Policy Institute. “And retail continues its slide” with a 4,000-job average monthly job loss this year.

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