US adds 210,000 jobs in November ahead of discovery of Omicron variant

Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% but variant threatens to derail economic recovery from the pandemic

The US economy added 210,000 jobs in November, less than half the jobs growth that economists had expected in a report that was compiled before the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant that now threatens to derail the economic recovery from the pandemic.

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% as employers added jobs in business services, transportation, warehousing and construction. The overall gain was less than half the 500,000 plus jobs that economists had expected to be added over the month.

November’s jobs report comes after the US added 531,000 in October, a sharp increase after a slowdown in hiring triggered by the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant over the summer.

It remains to be seen whether the Omicron variant will have a similar damping effect on the jobs market. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) thinktank warned this week that Omicron and rising inflation could prove significant threats to the global economy.

The strong jobs report comes after ADP, the US’s largest payroll supplier, said private sector employees had added 534,000 jobs in October. Nela Richardson, chief economist at ADP, said: “Service providers, which are more vulnerable to the pandemic, have dominated job gains this year. It’s too early to tell if the Omicron variant could potentially slow the jobs recovery in coming months.”

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