FORTUNE -- The U.S. economy added jobs at a steady pace in November, helping push the unemployment rate to a five-year low, according to the government's monthly jobs report released Friday. More Americans are working, and the data suggests that the quality of jobs is improving, as more of the positions created are in industries that pay higher wages.
The unemployment rate fell to 7%, as employers added 203,000 jobs. That's slightly more than the 180,000 per month created over the previous six months. And more of those new positions are in middle-class jobs in construction and manufacturing than during the past year.
For many months now, higher-wage employment had been missing from the economic recovery. Middle-wage jobs in construction, manufacturing, and information accounted for more than half, 60%, of the nation's jobless workers from the beginning of 2008 to early 2010. The job market has turned around since, but those fields represented only 22% of total jobs growth during the post-recession recovery, according to an August report by the National Employment Law Project.
What's more, lower-wage jobs, with median hourly wages of $7.68 to $13.83, accounted for only 21% of job losses during the downturn but have accounted for more than half, 58%, of all job growth. Jobs that saw the fastest growth were retail sales positions (at a median wage of $10.97 an hour) and food preparation workers ($9.04 an hour). Since June 2009, each of those fields has grown by more than 300,000 workers.
November showed some signs of improvement (if not hope) as the economy created slightly more middle-wage construction jobs and slightly fewer lower-wage jobs in retail and foods services. However, jobs in higher paying industries, such as financial services, changed little.
Here's a breakdown:
In November, employers created 17,000 jobs in construction, which paid an average of $26.23 an hour. That's slightly more than the average of 15,000 jobs we saw over the past 12 months. The economy also added 27,000 manufacturing jobs, which paid an average $24.81 an hour.
Also in November, employers added 18,000 jobs in food preparation, less than the 28,000 a month over the past year. The economy added 22,000 retail jobs, which is less than the average 34,000 jobs a month since March.
These are positive signs, but it's only one month's worth of data, and there's a glut of middle-class jobs the U.S. lost during the Great Recession. So it's worth watching what types of jobs are created in the new year.
Early Twitter investor closes its eighth fund.
FORTUNE -- Silicon Valley venture capital firm Benchmark has raised $425 million for its eighth fund, according to an SEC filing.
This is the same size as Benchmark's prior fund, raised in 2011, but with two major changes: Longtime general partners and firm co-founders Kevin Harvey and Bruce Dunlevie are no longer listed as general partners.
The pair is expected to maintain existing portfolio responsibilities, MOREDan Primack - Dec 6, 2013 10:58 AM ET
It's great news for Main Street. Will it be just as good for Wall Street?
By Mohamed A. El-Erian
FORTUNE -- This morning's U.S. employment report is an unusually good one -- in terms of the headline numbers and virtually all of the key components.
Net monthly job creation came in at 203,000, above consensus expectations of 180,000. Importantly, the job additions were broad-based, with virtually all sectors benefiting.
The widely followed unemployment MOREDec 6, 2013 10:30 AM ET
For Obamacare to work, the government would need to either raise the penalty substantially or make the health plans more appealing to young people.
By Cyrus Sanati
FORTUNE -- Vision and dental coverage could hold the key to attracting the young and healthy to sign up for Obamacare, potentially saving the new health care system from an early demise. These two relatively cheap services offer the so-called young invincibles a tangible MOREDec 6, 2013 10:14 AM ET
Jon Stewart likens private equity execs to movie mobsters. But Blackstone says it really was the romantic lead.
FORTUNE -- The Blackstone Group (BX) found itself in The Daily Show's sights last night, based on a seemingly-brazen piece of self-dealing that was first uncovered late last month by Bloomberg News.
Here are the basic facts: In the first half of 2013, Blackstone affiliate GSO Capital Partners purchased debt and credit default swaps MOREDan Primack - Dec 5, 2013 2:19 PM ET
One reason the virtual currency has been soaring could be that figuring out how to profit from its fall is tough.
FORTUNE -- Can you bet on the likely eventual bitcoin crash?
You bet. But it's an expensive trade. And even if you're right, you won't walk away with much, if anything.
The traditional way you bet against something is to "short it." But in order to do a short sale you have MOREStephen Gandel, senior editor - Dec 5, 2013 1:12 PM ET
Tuition rates are rising, but colleges and universities are still not bringing in enough revenue to make ends meet. What gives?
FORTUNE -- If you listen closely enough, you can almost hear the collective sigh of resignation among the throngs of parents and college-bound students who face higher tuition bills and, with it, more debt.
The U.S. Department of Education reported on Tuesday that the average price of attending a four-year public university MORENin-Hai Tseng, Writer - Dec 5, 2013 11:55 AM ET
Allan Sloan takes a look at the recently released Time Inc. SEC filing
FORTUNE -- There are some dishes, like homemade beef stew, that get increasingly flavorful the more times you cook them. Some documents are like that, too—the more you look at them, the more interesting they get.
The recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing by my current employer, Time Inc., is like that. Time Inc., like Time Warner Cable (TWC) MOREAllan Sloan, senior editor-at-large - Dec 5, 2013 11:26 AM ET
Congress yesterday voted to gut oversight regulations on private equity, and in the process displayed remarkable ignorance.
FORTUNE -- The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday voted to gut the only real piece of private equity regulation contained in Dodd-Frank: A requirement that firms with more than $150 million in assets under management register as investment advisors with the SEC. Technically a bipartisan vote of 254-159, with 36 Democrats joining 218 Republicans.
For MOREDan Primack - Dec 5, 2013 10:45 AM ET
Former Pearson and Economist CEO Marjorie Scardino named to the Twitter board.
FORTUNE -- When Twitter went public last month, more than a few critics took the company to task for not having a single female among its seven board members. Particularly galling, they argued, because some studies find that women tend to use Twitter (TWTR) more regularly than do men.
Today the company looked to begin rectifying the situation, announcing that Marjorie Scardino MOREDan Primack - Dec 5, 2013 9:13 AM ET
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