Retail sales jump
Retail sales rose 1.7% from the previous month in October, and 16.3% from October 2020, as businesses continued to rebound from the pandemic slowdown, according to the Department of Commerce retail report issued November 16. Total sales for the three-month period of August through October were up 15.4% from the same period a year ago. Auto sales were up 1.8% for the month of October, building material sales were up 2.8%, and department store sales were up 2.2%. Non-store retailers (primarily online) were up 4.0%. Sales at restaurants and bars were unchanged from the previous month, but up 29.3% from a year earlier.
Employment gains disappointing
The U.S. economy added only about 210,000 jobs in November, which was less than half the number economists had projected. But despite the low number of new jobs, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.4% to 4.2% – the lowest level since the pandemic began – according to the Employment Situation Report issued December 3 by the Department of Labor.
Most of the new jobs were added in the professional and business services sector, transportation and warehousing, construction, and manufacturing. Unexpectedly, jobs in the retail sector declined in November just as economists expected increased hiring as retailers prepared for the holiday rush.
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by $0.08 to $31.03 in November. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.8%.
Most sectors drop in November
Information Technology was up 4.35% in November, and Consumer Discretionary was up 1.97%, but the other nine sectors of the S&P 500 all lost ground for the month. The biggest losers included Financials, down 5.68%, Communications Services, down 5.16%, and Energy, down 5.09%.
The chart below shows the results of the 11 sectors for the past month and year-to-date: