November numbers may be an aberration. September's job losses were revised down to 24,000 in this report, while October's job gains were revised upward, from 151,000 to 172,000. Through November, weekly data on initial jobless claims showed significant improvement. And of course, many other indicators have been flashing positive signs in recent weeks.
It's likely, then, that the November figures will be revised up in future months to show a better performance more in keeping with broader trends. And it's important to remember that monthly data are noisy. America's labour markets have yet to generate job growth sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate. But the pace of recovery has been improving. There is good reason to suspect that when all is said and done this report will appear as a blip marring a strengthening upward employment trend. All the same, policymakers in Washington weighing whether to extend unemployment benefits and tax cuts should heed the obvious weakness in labour markets. They can and should make sure that November's number remains an anomaly.