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Jobs Report Beats Expectations; Payrolls Added 128,000 Jobs in October

Topics: Current Events
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Prior to the release of the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, economists polled by Reuters predicted the addition of 85,000 jobs to non-farm payrolls. The actual tally exceeded expectations at 128,000 jobs.

But that number may not capture the full picture of job growth in October. At the Economic Policy Institute, Senior Economist Heidi Shierholz notes that the jobs report didn’t reflect the 46,000 striking GM workers who are now back at work. The jobs number is also lower due to the loss of 20,000 temporary jobs attached to the Census.

“Accounting for these two factors to provide a better sense of underlying trends, jobs grew by 194,000 in October,” writes Shierholz. “Even this number may be a slight undercount, because though it accounts for the direct effect of the strike, it does not include any supply chain ripple effects. Next month’s release will provide a clearer picture. Accounting for direct effect of striking workers and temporary Census workers, jobs grew 189,000 on average over the last three months.”

Unemployment ticked up to 3.6% from a 50-year low the previous month.

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And Now for the Bad News

Job growth was relatively robust in October, but wage growth was slower than might be expected, given the job market. Average hourly earnings for private-sector employees increased by 6 cents to $28.18 last month, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the last year, average hourly earnings have increased 3%.

But the PayScale Index, which measures real wages in addition to nominal wages, shows that the buying power of workers’ pay has declined 9.6% since 2006.

Where Jobs Are Growing

Several industries added jobs last month, including:

  • Food services and drinking places (+48,000 jobs)
  • Professional and business services (+22,000 jobs)
  • Social assistance (+20,000 jobs)
  • Financial activities (+16,000 jobs)
  • Health care (+15,000 jobs)

Manufacturing shed 36,000 jobs in October. Other industries were essentially flat for the month, including construction, mining, transportation and warehousing, information, wholesale trade and retail trade.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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