Economic Report: U.S. gains 155,000 jobs in November and unemployment rate stays at 3.7%

The U.S. economy has created more than 2 million new jobs in 2018 in health care, construction, manufacturing, hospitality and many other industries. The result: The lowest unemployment rate since the late 1960s.

The numbers: The still-expanding economy created 155,000 new jobs in November to keep the unemployment rate at a 49-year low, a reassuring sign amid fresh worries over whether a nine-and-a-half-year-old expansion is starting to wobble.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 190,000 increase. Hiring in October and September was also a touch less than originally reported, the Labor Department reported.

Still, an unexpected surge in hiring in 2018 has knocked the unemployment rate to the lowest level since 1969. The jobless rate remained at 3.7% for the third month in a row.

At the same time, the flush of new jobs is contributing to the fastest pay gains for workers in nine years. The amount of money the average worker earns rose 6 cents to $27.35 an hour last month.

The increase in pay over the past 12 months was unchanged at 3.1%, but that’s the biggest advance since 2009.

Rising wages is one of the factors likely to induce a Federal Reserve entrusted with controlling inflation to raise interest rates later this month.

What happened: The increase in jobs was concentrated last month in health care, manufacturing and transportation.

Health-care providers hired 32,000 people, manufacturers added 27,000 workers and employment in the transportation industry climbed by 25,000.

Retailers and white-collar businesses also boosted payrolls. Retail stores took on more workers for the first time in three months, adding 18,000 jobs. Professional firms beefed up staff by 32,000.

Employment fell slightly in government and an energy industry coping with lower oil prices.

Read: Why fading business spending could spell trouble for Trump, economy in 2019

Big picture: The U.S. has added an average of 206,000 jobs a month through the first 11 months of 2018, above the 182,000 pace during the same period last year.

What’s more, the economy is on track to produce the most new jobs since 2015.

All the new hiring and extremely low unemployment are bulwarks against recession, but a rapid increase in wages is not an unalloyed good. How the Fed responds is likely to determine whether the economy continues to expand in 2019 or beyond or begin to peter out.

A festering trade dispute with China is another headwind. The longer it goes on the more damage it could cause to the economy.

Read: Trade deficit hits 10-year high as China shuns soybeans and U.S. imports surge

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.32% and S&P 500 SPX, -0.15% were set to open higher on Friday, rebounding slightly after two days of steep losses. Investors have grave doubts about whether the U.S. and China can resolve a festering dispute over trade.

The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.09% was little changed at 2.89%. Yields have tumbled from a seven-year high of almost 3.25% a month ago amid growing worries about whether the U.S. economy is bound to stumble.

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