November jobs report a big UPSIDE surprise
* Employment fell by a paltry 11,000 in the month of November. That was much better than the expectation for a drop of 125,000. October's -190k reading was also revised up to only -111k, while September's -219k reading was bumped up to -139k.
* The unemployment rate actually FELL to 10% from 10.2%. That was better than the 10.2% forecast. The household employment survey, which is different from the business survey that gives you the headline jobs figure, actually showed a net GAIN of 227,000 jobs. We haven't seen a positive reading since April 2009 (+120,000) and a reading this strong since April 2008 (+234,000).
* Average hourly earnings were the weak link in the chain. They gained just 0.1%. That was down from 0.3% a month earlier and below forecasts for a reading of 0.2%. However, average weekly hours picked up to 33.2 from 33. That's the best reading we've seen since February.
* By industry, we saw a decent pop in service jobs (+58,000). The temporary help category has now shown three straight gains, including a sizable boost of 86,000 jobs. Education and health care has produced "Steady Eddie" gains (+40,000 in November). The weakness was in categories like construction (-27,000), manufacturing (-41,000), and retail trade (-15,000).