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In November, the U.S. economy added 228,000 more jobs. In the past 12 months, 2.07 million new jobs have been added. The unemployment rate stayed the same at 4.1%. The Labor Force Participation Rate stayed the same at 62.7%. Wages rose at an annualized rate of 2.5% in November, not as high as you normally see with this unemployment rate. The last time the unemployment rate was this low, wages were rising at a 4% rate.


The number of workers who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more is now 1.58 million. This is down from 1.62 million in October and the lowest number since 2008, but still above a healthy norm. The number of people working part time for economic reasons (people who are working part time and want a full time job) remains stubbornly high at 4.8 million and unchanged from a month prior. This has improved by 858,000 in the last 12 months. The large amount of people in this category suggests that there remains some slack in the labor market. These two statistics, along with the relatively slow rate of wage growth, suggests that there remains room for improvement in the labor market.


Brexit, the divorce of the UK and the European Union, began with a referendum, but the really difficult part comes in the post-divorce agreements. On Friday the two parties reached agreement on some very contentious issues that had been preventing constructive talks on the overall trade set up that will exist post-Brexit. In Friday’s agreement, the UK agreed to a $47 billion payment to the EU to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Some preliminary agreements were also reached concerning how to arrange border crossings between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which has, and will continue to be, a difficult detail on which to agree.


The Conference Board is an independent, global business research organization. Its Consumer Confidence Index is closely watched as a sign of how confident consumers are in the economy, and thus how likely they are to make purchases. According to the index, U.S. consumers are more confident in their outlook for the economy and job prospects than they have been since 2001. This makes retailers happy because this generally translates into a robust holiday-shopping season.


Largely due to strong U.S. jobs report, the U.S. stock markets trended higher for the week. During the week, the markets tended to be a bit choppy as investors tried to figure out who would win and who would lose after the new tax bill (still pending agreement among the two houses of Congress) is passed. After the jobs report came in, stocks were buoyed by the data that suggested that the U.S. remains on the upswing.