The latest Employment Situation report shows that with the addition of 211,000 jobs in November, the economy continues to recover at a steady clip. It was the 69th consecutive month of private sector job growth, to the tune of 13.7 million jobs created – the longest streak on record. For the first time since 1999, we are on track to have back-to-back years of average monthly job growth over 200,000 jobs. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent. Job growth in November was not just solid but also widespread, including very strong growth in construction.
Other economic indicators provide reason for bullishness. Retail sales for the beginning of the holiday shopping season have been encouraging. Auto sales were again very strong in November: 18.19 million at an annualized rate. The iconic U.S. auto industry, which was flat on its back just seven years ago, continues its remarkable comeback. Historic collective bargaining agreements recently reached by the Big Three automakers remind us all that shared sacrifice between management and labor can lead to shared prosperity.
There is still more work ahead of us to ensure that all Americans have their hard work rewarded and enjoy the fruits of this recovery. Too many families are still struggling to keep their heads above water. We need to do more to raise their wages and increase their economic stability. We need to expand opportunity and ensure that the rising economic tide lifts all boats, not just the yachts.
That’s why the Obama administration is taking decisive steps to give more people the chance to succeed and achieve the middle-class security they deserve. In recent weeks at the Labor Department, we’ve announced the availability of $100 million in grants to empower more workers with the high-tech skills they need to compete for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We’ve also issued a proposed regulation and other guidance that will make it easier for states to expand savings options for the nearly 70 million workers who lack access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. And we continue to call on Congress to pass a long overdue increase in the minimum wage.
As we move into the holiday season, I am grateful that more Americans can celebrate in comfort and joy, and I look forward to sustained progress into the new year.