U.S. Job Growth Remains Strong, Defying Fed’s Rate Strategy

Other indicators have signaled that a more serious contraction is underway.

The purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing, which measures how many manufacturers are expanding, turned negative for the first time since the pandemic. Manufacturers added 14,000 jobs in November, but that’s about half the rate of the average over the previous six months.

Retailing was among the few industries to lose jobs, as employers like Walmart announced lower-than-usual holiday hiring, although the volatility of the last few years has made that data more difficult to accurately assess. The transportation and warehousing industry has been shrinking since midsummer, as pandemic-era shopping binges have given way to more spending on travel and leisure, and dropped 15,000 positions in November.

Some independent truck drivers have left for other occupations, said Bob Costello, chief economist of the American Trucking Associations, but the overall number of trucking jobs has remained significantly above its 2019 baseline.

“If you’re a good driver, you don’t have a slew of accidents on your record and you can pass a drug test, there’s no reason for you to be unemployed unless you want to be,” Mr. Costello said. “Zero.”

The impact of interest rate increases is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the layoffs at fast-growing companies in Silicon Valley, which had been fueled by abundant venture capital that for many years couldn’t find better returns in more traditional asset classes.

The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas measured a quadrupling of layoffs last month from a year earlier, led by 53,000 pink slips at technology companies, the highest Challenger has measured since beginning to collect the data in 2000. Many of those workers will get snapped up by companies that have had a harder time finding talent than the name-brand employers.

For Deirdre Williams, it took only a month.

Ms. Williams had been working on a contract with the consulting firm PwC until August, when she was told that the assignment had been cut short, with no reason given. She had just bought a house in Massachusetts, and felt grateful for the state’s generous unemployment benefits. But by October, another contract came along, with a tech staffing company at about the pay she was making before.

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