Labor Department Reports the Economy Added 128,000 Jobs in October


U.S. employers added 128,000 jobs in October in the face of labor strikes and trade disputes.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported the economy added 128,000 jobs in October. Job creation in September and August was revised up by a net 95,000. The jobless rate ticked up to 3.6% last month from 3.5% in September. The prior month’s reading was the lowest rate since December 1969.

Average hourly earnings climbed 3% from October 2018. However, in general, wage growth has largely plateaued. Average hourly earnings for private sector workers increased 6 cents to $28.18 an hour.

Employers have added an average 167,000 jobs to payrolls each month this year, a slowdown from the 223,000 jobs added each month, on average, last year.

The health-care sector added 34,200 jobs in October, business services added 22,000, hospitality, including restaurants, added 61,000. U.S. employers overall have added to payrolls for 109 straight months, by far the longest stretch of consistent job creation on record to 1939.

“The industry itself is stable and our company is having some pretty good months, so it’s stacking up to be a pretty good year,” said Michael Mabry, chief development officer as Fuzzy’s Taco Shops, a Fort Worth, Texas, chain of 150 restaurants in 17 states.

We have a good sense of comfort right now but not a lot of long-term security,” she said. “I’m not going to hire someone that I don’t feel really confident about their employment prospects with us for a long time.” said Melissa Ball, owner of Ball Office Products.

The unemployment rate last month rose in part because more American joined the labor force, a positive sign.

The share of Americans working or searching for work last month rose to 63.3% its highest level since August 2013. The rate remains below prerecession levels and is well below record highs above 67% set in the early 2000s.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal forecast payrolls to grow by 75,000 in October, an unemployment rate of 3.6%, and a 3% increase in wages from a year earlier.

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Economics, Finance and Investing