Unemployment Still Low, But Job Creation Misses Expectations

The Labor Department reported that unemployment is still at a generationally low 3.7 percent, its lowest level since 1969, but job creation underwhelmed in November, missing expectations by over 40,000.

A Dow Jones survey of economists were expecting an increase of 198,000 nonfarm payrolls, but came in at 155,000. Average hourly earnings, a key metric of gauging inflation, increased by 3.1 percent compared to a year ago.

The markets responded in the red to the latest jobs report as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 200 points, while the S&P 500 as well as the Nasdaq Composite both fell 20 points and 80 points, respectively. Tech names helped to drag down the Dow as IBM, Apple and Intel declined a combined 7 percent to start Friday’s session.

The Federal Reserve, who said its next interest rate decision slated for later this month will be heavily dependent on data, could interpret the latest decline in nonfarm payrolls as a factor in pausing its rate-hiking policy. The Fed has been exhibiting signs of dovishness as of late.

Meanwhile, U.S. equities have been a paragon of volatility as of late with the Dow whipsawing investors on Thursday with a decline of 785 points before erasing the losses to settle for a decline of just under 80 points. Through Thursday, the Dow and S&P 500 have both shed 2.3 percent, while the Nasdaq has fallen just under 2 percent.

“You’ve gone from a period of zero sensitivity to headlines to a period of hypersensitivity,” said James Athey, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “We’re now in a world where no one knows which way is up and which way is down.”