US Adds 250K Jobs in October; Wage Gains Strongest in a Decade

Companies kept right on hiring in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing…

US Adds 250K Jobs in October; Wage Gains Strongest in a Decade

AFP / JEFF KOWALSKY
The US auto sector added 6,800 new workers in another sign of robust job creation just before key midterm elections

(AFP) The US economic engine brushed past last month’s Hurricane Michael to continue its robust job creation while giving workers a fat pay bump, the government reported Friday.

In a welcome development for Republicans ahead of next week’s midterm vote, American employers added 250,000 net new positions in October, handily overshooting forecasts, while salaries rose at the fastest rate since 2009, the Labor Department said.

Unemployment held steady at 3.7 percent, a 48-year low.

The result was a surprise as some economists had expected the hurricane that made landfall on the Florida panhandle in the middle of the employment survey week to depress reports of hiring and worker pay.

Instead, officials said the storm, which disrupted business and life for millions, produced “no discernable effect” on the estimates.

Companies kept right on hiring in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing.

But perhaps more significant, average hourly earnings, a closely watched measure of worker pay, rose 0.2 percent from September, putting wages 3.1 percent above the year-ago level — the fastest gain since April 2009.

Sluggish worker pay gains despite the healthy jobs market had baffled economists, and the gain now is well above the 2.3 percent pace of consumer inflation.

The transportation equipment sector added 21,000 workers, within which the key auto industry accounted for 6,800 positions.

In another dose of good news, the American workforce grew by 711,000 people, lifting the labor force participation rate 0.2 percentage points to 62.9 percent, after holding stubbornly stable through the economic recovery.

The share of the population in the workforce also rose 0.2 to 60.6 percent.

“The American economy and the American people continue to thrive under pro-growth, free-enterprise policies that make us all better off,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican.

The Federal Reserve is not expected to raise interest rates when it meets to consider monetary policy next week, but the latest jobs report is likely solidify the case for the rate hike expected in December.

President Donald Trump has expressed outrage at the Fed’s current tightening cycle, after three hikes this year.

But with unemployment flirting with historic lows and the economy juiced by tax cuts, stimulus and steady job creation, economists say policymakers will feel they have little choice but to continue raising rates to stave off inflation and prevent the economy from overheating.

Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.