The U.S. economy generated a solid 211,000 jobs in November, a number that topped expectations and may have turned the final key for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates later this month.
In a much-anticipated report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said nonfarm payroll growth continued to build on the momentum from October. Wall Street has been watching the employment picture closely for clues as to whether the Federal Open Market Committee and Chair Janet Yellen will sign off on the first rate increase in 9½ years.
Fed fund futures were pricing in a 79 percent chance of a rate increase when the FOMC meets Dec. 15-16. The level was little changed from Thursday.
“Yellen did a good job this week of putting the markets on notice that she and the FOMC intend to raise rates here in the middle of December,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist for State Street Global Advisors’ U.S Intermediary Business. “This report only further affirms that view. So it looks like all systems are go for the beginning of policy normalization.”
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The unemployment rate remained at 5.0 percent. A more inclusive number that counts discouraged workers and those working part time for economic reasons edged higher from 9.8 percent to 9.9 percent. The labor force participation rate remained mired around lows not seen since the late 1970s, though it did edge higher to 62.5 percent.