November 2019 Employment Report by Bruce Steinberg


In a revision of the October Temporary help services findings, November marks a 4 month consecutive growth period in temporary/contract based employment. GM’s employee strike did have an impact on October’s employment numbers as well as November’s numbers considering it was approximately 50,000 striking workers. Despite this order of magnitude shift in the labor force participation there was steady growth between the two months.

The October Employment report has detailed updates on job trends in all sectors. Send it to your staffing colleagues to keep your team up to date:

November 2019 Employment Report 

The unemployment rate is 3.5 percent in November 2019, which is incrementally lower than the previous month. The last time it was this low I was … never mind, it was the end of 1969. The number of employed persons increased, the number of unemployed persons decreased, and the size of the labor force increased but by a small amount … see the Household Survey section below for details and explanations.

The total number of jobs increased 266,000, which was a big improvement from the 156,000 increase in October (however, the October number was affected by about 50,000 striking GM workers); a year ago in November 2018, overall jobs increased by 196,000.

Overall private-sector hourly wages were up 0.25 percent in November, or seven cents, from October and up 3.14 percent, or 86 cents, from November 2018; both gains in hourly wages are consistent with recent trends.

But Temporary help services rose in November and with October’s figure being revised to post an increase, THS has now risen for four consecutive months

Jobs Report

Private-sector jobs were up 254,000 in November, which was well above the October figure of up 163,000. Although the striking GM workers impacted the October data and those accounted for a little less than 50,000 jobs. So, if we add in 50,000 striking GM workers to the October jobs number, November private-sector jobs growth was only about 40,000.

The private Goods-producing sector was up 48,000 in November compared to a decline of 25,000 in October.


  • Manufacturing was up 54,000 in November compared to a decline of 43,000 in October, which is misleading because of the GM strike, which is why we are also dispensing with a year-over-year comparison.

  • The Construction sector was only able to bang together an increase of 1,000 jobs after increasing by14,000 in October; a year ago in November 2018, it added 5,000 jobs.


  • Mining and logging was down 7,000 in November after adding 4,000 in October; a year ago in November 2018, it was down 3,000.

The private Service-providing sector increased by 206,000 jobs in November, which was better than the 188,000 it gained in October; a year ago in November 2018, it increased by 171,000.

  • The Retail trade sector’s performance added on 2,000 jobs in November after adding 22,000 in October; a year ago in November 2018, it increased by 32,500 jobs. Perhaps  because the holiday season has come up early this year, the bulk of the holiday hiring occurred in October this year instead of November, when it happened last year.

  • The Wholesale trade sector declined by 4,300 jobs in November after increasing by 10,000 in October; a year ago in November 2018, it was up 11,300 jobs.

  • The Transportation and warehousing sector continued to be on the move with a gain of 15,500 job in November that followed growth of 6,100 in October; a year ago in November 2018, it increased 23,600 jobs.

  • Financial activities added 13,000 jobs in November and that was less than the 16,000 it added in October; a year ago in November 2018, it increased by only 3,000 jobs.

  • The Professional and business services sector experienced growth of 38,000 in November and that was less than the 43,000 gain in October; a year ago in November 2018, it was up 34,000. Computer systems design and related services was up 5,800 in November, which was better than the 4,200 gain in October.  Management and technical consulting services was up 3,300 in November that was much less than the 7,300 gain observed in October. Architectural and engineering services was up 8,400 in November which was much better than the marginal decline of 400 jobs in October. 

  • The Education and health services sector added 74,000 jobs in November that was much better than the 30,000 gain of October. Hiring in home health care services continued by adding 8,500 in November, which was a healthy improvement from the 4,800 increase in October.

  • The Leisure and hospitality sector added 45,000 jobs in November that followed a gain of 70,000 in October; a year ago in November 2018, it was up 39,000.

The total number of Government jobs was up 12,000 in November. The federal government declined by 1,000, state government was flat, and local government added 13,000.

Temporary Help Services Roundup

The number of temporary help jobs in November was 3,046,900 and that works out to a 4,800 gain and a 0.02 percent increase from October and a 0.2 percent year-over-year gain. And with October initially reported decline that was revised to an increase of 3,800, the sector has put together four consecutive months of increases at the end of the year after declining for most of 2019. 

For a chart of temporary help’s growth from January 1991 to November 2019 and comparing its trend to total employment, click here.



In November 2019, temporary help services market share of all jobs declined to 2.0012 percent from well below a tear ago in November 2018, when it was 2.0302 percent, and two years ago in November 2017, when it was 2.0169 percent. To state the obvious, the decline in market share can be attributed to temporary help’s rather anemic performance from most of the year while overall jobs growth has been relatively strong.


Household Survey

The unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5 percent in November, mainly due to the labor force growing slower than people are getting hired.

The number of employed persons increased by 83,000 as the number of unemployed persons declined by 44,000 at the same time the size of the entire labor force increased by only 40,000. And, there were 135,000 fewer people considered as not in the labor force in November. These were all fairly small changes in terms of absolute numbers. In other words, the size of the entire labor force increased by a relatively small number compared to the increase in the number of employed persons.

The labor force participation rate ticked down 0.1 to 63.2 percent in November but the employment-to-population ratio was unchanged at 61.0 percent from the previous month.

BTW, we maintain an updated table of many major employment as well as other economic indicators here or here for the mobile version.