The U.S. economy gained a strong 531,000 jobs in October, beating analyst expectations. The leisure and hospitality sector led with 164,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6%. Year-over-year wage growth remained high at 4.9%.
531,000: The U.S. economy added 531,000 jobs in October.
4.6%: The unemployment rate fell to 4.6%.
4.9%: Wages grew 4.9% over the past year.
October’s jobs report is full of good news. The 531,000 jobs added to the economy – the largest increase since July–beat analyst expectations, and the gains were spread across a wide variety of sectors. The government was the only sector that saw a decrease in jobs. The New York Times noted that with this report, the economy shows signs of normalizing.
The unemployment rate also fell to 4.6%, something that analysts hadn’t predicted would happen until the end of 2021. Other data shows that anxiety over the pandemic and the surge of the Delta variant has been decreasing. The percentage of people working from home because of COVID-19 fell to 11.6% during the month of October, the lowest number since the start of the pandemic.
The one disappointing number in October’s report is that the overall labor participation rate remained flat, which means the strong job growth was not enough to bring sidelined workers back into the job market. On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal reports that 180,000 women did enter the workforce in October. Women were more severely impacted by the pandemic, and October’s increase represents modest progress—even though it was not enough to move the overall number.
Economists are watching to see what will bring more workers back into the job market. As MarketWatch reports, the labor participation rate is near its lowest level since the early 1970s. Business have been raising wages to try to attract more workers, and October’s 4.9% year-over-year wage growth represents the highest growth since tracking started in 2006.
Experts had also hoped the end of unemployment benefits in September and the start of the 2021-2022 school year would bring more workers back, but so far progress has been slow.