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US Hiring Strong in November  12/02 07:48

   The nation's employers kept hiring briskly in November despite high 
inflation and a slow-growing economy -- a sign of resilience in the face of the 
Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's employers kept hiring briskly in November 
despite high inflation and a slow-growing economy -- a sign of resilience in 
the face of the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes.

   The economy added 263,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate stayed 3.7%, 
still near a 53-year low, the Labor Department said Friday. November's job 
growth dipped only slightly from October's 284,000 gain.

   Last month's hiring amounted to a substantial increase. All year, as 
inflation has surged and the Fed has imposed ever-higher borrowing rates, 
America's labor market has defied skeptics, adding hundreds of thousands of 
jobs, month after month.

   As employers have continued hiring, wage gains have followed. In November, 
average hourly pay jumped 5.1% compared with a year ago, a robust increase that 
could complicate the Fed's efforts to curb inflation. This week, Fed Chair 
Jerome Powell stressed in a speech that jobs and wages were growing too fast 
for the central bank to quickly slow inflation. The Fed has jacked up its 
benchmark rate, from near zero in March to nearly 4%, to try to wrestle 
inflation back toward its 2% annual target.

   In the meantime, the steady hiring and rising paychecks have helped U.S. 
households drive the economy. In October, consumer spending rose at a healthy 
pace even after adjusting for inflation. Americans stepped up their purchases 
of cars, restaurant meals and other services.

   After having contracted in the first six months of the year, the U.S. 
economy expanded at a brisk 2.9% annual rate last quarter. In addition to 
strength from consumer spending, a spike in exports helped boost growth.

   Though steady hiring and rising wages have fueled their spending, Americans 
are also turning increasingly to credit cards to keep up with higher prices. 
Many are also digging into savings, a trend that cannot continue indefinitely.

   Some signs of weakness have sparked concerns about a likely recession next 
year, in part because many fear that the Fed's surging rate hikes will end up 
derailing the economy. Particularly in the technology, media and retail 
industries, a rising number of companies have made high-profile layoff 
announcements.

   In addition to job cuts from tech behemoths like Amazon, Meta and Twitter, 
smaller companies -- including DoorDash, the real estate firm Redfin and the 
retailers Best Buy and the Gap -- have said they will lay off workers.

   And in November, a measure of factory activity dropped to a level that 
suggested that the manufacturing sector is contracting for the first time since 
May 2020.

 
 
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