Intelligent Investment

Economic Watch: Solid November Job Growth Misses Expectations

December 3, 2021 3 Minute Read

Executive Summary

  • The U.S. added 210,000 jobs in November, well below expectations of 573,000.
  • Professional & business services jobs, which are heavily office-using, had the most growth of any sector in November with 90,000 new jobs.
  • Despite the labor participation rate increasing by 20 basis points (bps) to 61.8%, the unemployment rate fell by 40 bps to 4.2%. Average hourly wages increased by 4.8% year-over-year.
  • Job growth in September and October was revised up by 82,000, continuing a pattern of upward revisions over the past several months. The November household survey, conducted separately from the employment survey, was particularly strong. Considering this, we expect November job growth will be revised higher.
  • CBRE continues to maintain a positive outlook for the economy and real estate in 2022, despite increased uncertainty over the COVID omicron variant.

Impacts on Commercial Real Estate


Office-using jobs increased by 103,000 in November. Professional & business services gained 90,000 and financial activities added 13,000. These gains bode well for future office demand, though the omicron variant does inject a degree of uncertainty into the pace of near-term recovery.


The warehousing & storage sector gained 8,800 jobs in November and manufacturing added 31,000. In addition, 5,600 trucking jobs were added. These jobs, along with some early indications of supply-chain normalization, bolster an already positive outlook.


Traditional retail lost 20,400 jobs in November, while food services & drinking places added 11,000. The omicron variant heightens uncertainty for physical retail; however, the sector is primed for a strong performance provided the public health environment does not materially deteriorate.


The construction sector gained 31,000 jobs in November across both residential and commercial categories. Although disrupted supply chains and labor shortages will be problematic over the near term, a strong economy supports household formation and along with historically low interest rates bolsters the sector’s outlook.

Health Care

Health care gained 2,100 jobs in November. Ambulatory health care (outpatient services) added 17,000, while hospitals lost 3,900 and nursing & residential care lost 11,000. Though the pandemic continues to impact the sector, long-term trends underpin demand for health-care real estate.


Accommodation services gained 6,600 jobs in November. Although the resumption of international travel bodes well for demand, the new omicron variant introduces additional uncertainty. It is too soon to know exact impacts, but delayed business travel remains a possibility. Provided the new variant can be effectively managed, the stage is set for a stronger 2022.


Continued job growth and higher wages will support household formation. As economic activity recovers in large cities, urban multifamily markets should see additional improvement. We continue to expect that strong demand, amid a shortage of new housing, will support the sector.

The Bottom Line

November’s employment report was mixed. Although it missed expectations, an employment increase of 1.14 million in the household survey portends a likely upward revision to this month’s headline number. Additionally, workforce participation increased and the unemployment rate fell. Most sectors had job gains, but losses occurred in traditional retail and government.

November employment data was collected before the emergence of the omicron variant, which CBRE expects will cause bouts of market volatility and heightened anxiety in coming months. However, we view this development as unlikely to derail the economy thanks to effective medical treatments and the benefits of fiscal and monetary stimulus. While any COVID resurgence may negatively affect the office, hotel and retail sectors, multifamily and industrial fundamentals will remain strong.