The U.S. economy added a little more than 200,000 jobs during the month of November, the Labor Department said in its monthly assessment Friday – roughly half what most analysts expected.
The official jobs report said there were 210,000 new hires last month.
Most economists predicted Friday’s report would show about a half-million new jobs.
The new figure follows a stellar report a month ago that said 530,000 jobs were created in October, surpassing expectations.
The department said the unemployment rate for the month declined slightly to 4.2 percent.
“Notable job gains occurred in professional and business services, transportation and warehousing, construction, and manufacturing. Employment in retail trade declined over the month,” the department said in a statement.
The government’s survey of businesses showed a slowdown last month in hiring at restaurants, bars and hotels, which added just 23,000 jobs, down from 170,000 in October. That could reflect the effects of an uptick in Covid-19 cases last month and a reduction in outdoor dining.
Retailers cut 20,000 jobs, a sign that holiday hiring hasn’t been as strong as in previous years. But transportation and warehousing firms added 50,000 positions, which indicates that online retailers and shippers anticipate healthy online shopping.
The jobs outlook for the coming months has become hazier with the emergence of the omicron variant. Little is definitively known about omicron, and widespread business shutdowns are considered unlikely. Still, omicron could discourage some Americans from traveling, shopping and eating out in the coming months and potentially slow the economy.