The job market bounced back last month after the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The economy added 261,000 jobs to non-farm payrolls in October, according to this morning’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Labor Department also revised the previous month’s report, which had reflected a decline of 33,000 jobs, to show the addition of 18,000 jobs.
This restores the job market to its “record streak of growth,” writes Chelsey Dulaney at The Wall Street Journal: “With that revision and October’s gain, the U.S. labor market has now grown for 85 consecutive months, the longest uninterrupted stretch of growth on record.”
Where Are the Wages?
There are two dim spots in the report: labor force participation and wages.
Unemployment ticked down to 4.1 percent last month, but the labor force participation rate also declined, by 0.4 percentage point to 62.7 percent. Over the past year, the labor force participation rate has seen little movement. The rate has been in decline since the 1990s, and economists aren’t exactly sure why.
Average hourly wages declined slightly last month, dropping 1 cent to $26.53. Over the past year, wages have increased by 2.4 percent.
The PayScale Index, which measures the change in wages for employed U.S. workers, shows that pay has increased 13.2 percent since 2006. However, when inflation is taken into account, real wages are 6.9 percent lower than they were 11 years ago.
In short, wage growth is not keeping pace with inflation, which means that workers’ wages buy less than they used to.
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Where the Jobs Are Growing
Leisure and hospitality added 106,000 jobs last month — 89,000 in food services and drinking places. These industries also added jobs: professional and business services (+50,000 jobs), manufacturing (+24,000 jobs) and healthcare (+22,000 jobs).
Other industries remained flat for the month, including construction, mining, retail trade, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government.
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