(CN) — Employers added a robust 228,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, a number that significantly surpassed most analysts’ expectations.
The government said the robust hiring activity helped to keep the nation’s unemployment rate at 4.1 percent — a 17-year low.
But the vigorous labor market hasn’t translated into rising wages. The Labor Department says wages rose only 2.5 percent in November compared with a year earlier.
The last time unemployment was this low, average wages were growing at a 4 percent annual rate.
Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care in November, the government said.
Employment growth has averaged 174,000 per month thus far this year, compared with an average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016.
Employers in the professional and business services sector added 46,000 jobs in November. Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 548,000 jobs.
Manufacturers added 31,000 jobs. Within the industry, employment was up 8,000 in the machinery sectors, 7,000 in fabricated metal products, 4,000 in computer and electronic products, and 4,000 in plastics and rubber products.
Since November 2016, manufacturers have added 189,000.
The health care sector added 30,000 jobs in November. Most of the gain occurred in ambulatory health care services, where hiring was up 25,000. This category includes physicians’ offices and outpatient care centers.
Monthly employment growth in health care has averaged 24,000 thus far in 2017, compared with an average increase of 32,000 per month in 2016, the Labor Department said.
Construction employment rose 23,000 in November, and by 132,000 over the year.
Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little over the month.
Overall, the economy is expanding at a healthy pace.
Over the past six months, economic growth has exceeded an annual rate of 3 percent, the first time that’s happened since 2014.
In addition, consumer confidence has reached its highest level since 2000, the government said.