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US Added A Solid 128,000 Jobs In October Despite GM Strike

The unemployment rate ticked up from 3.5% to 3.6%, still near a five-decade low. And for a second straight month, average hourly wages rose a decent if less-than-robust 3% from a year ago.

Posted: Nov 1, 2019 1:58 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a solid 128,000 jobs in October, a figure that was held down by a now-settled strike against General Motors that caused tens of thousands of workers to be temporarily counted as unemployed.

The unemployment rate ticked up from 3.5% to 3.6%, still near a five-decade low. And for a second straight month, average hourly wages rose a decent if less-than-robust 3% from a year ago.

The government also revised up its estimate of job growth for August and September by a combined 95,000, suggesting a healthier employment market than many had thought.

All told, Friday’s October employment report from the government pointed to a still-sturdy job market that remains a vital source of strength for a U.S. economy that’s been weakened by trade wars and a global slowdown. The healthy level of hiring also makes it less likely that the Federal Reserve, which cut short-term interest rates this week for a third time this year, will do so again anytime soon.

“This was an unambiguously strong report,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief US financial economist at Oxford Economics. “I think the ongoing strength of the labor market helps explain and support the Fed’s leaning in to pause the rate cut cycle for now.”

The solid jobs data put stock investors in a buying mood. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 240 points by late morning.

Friday’s jobs report suggested that further job gains may be coming. Last month, the GM strike contributed to the temporary loss of 41,600 auto factory and likely other related jobs. But the settlement seems sure to lead to a return of those jobs in the coming months.

And the labor force participation rate — a measure of how many people have jobs or are seeking work — ticked up to 63.3%, the best since August 2013. That suggests that a rising number of people think it’s still a good time to find a job.

Besides GM, a temporary drag on hiring last month was the U.S. Census. The government let go of 20,000 short-term workers who had been helping prepare for the 2020 survey.

Job growth so far this year has averaged just 167,000 a month, down from an average of 223,000 in 2018, according to Labor Department figures. Even so, hiring remains high enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising despite the tepid pace of economic growth. On Wednesday, the government estimated that the economy grew in the July-October quarter at a modest 1.9% annual rate.

The economy has been expanding for more than a decade, the longest period of growth on record. But the bump from the 2018 tax cuts are fading and an aging population and other demographic forces are holding back potential growth.

That slowdown could be worrisome for President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election next year. The economy appears unable to achieve the lasting growth of more than 3% annually that he had promised. Within 30 minutes of the jobs report’s release, though, Trump celebrated the figures on Twitter as a “blowout,” adding that “USA ROCKS.”

Consumers, who drive about 70% of U.S. economic activity, have provided much of the fuel for growth. In September, they modestly stepped up their spending, and their incomes grew fast enough to let them save more, too. A rising saving rate is encouraging because it suggests that households have leeway to keep spending.

Last month, much of the hiring was driven by restaurants, which added 47,500 jobs. But even as consumers help boost growth, business investment has been a drag on the economy in recent months. Collectively, they have slashed their spending on industrial machinery and other equipment, mostly because the U.S.-China trade war has made them reluctant to commit to big purchases. The tariffs between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, have also reduced U.S. exports.

The jobs report hinted at a mixed picture for the start of the holiday shopping season. Retailers added 6,100 jobs last month. But the rise of e-commerce and increasing concentration of wealth in large U.S. metros have corresponded with the loss of more than 20,000 jobs at retailers over the past 12 months.

A slowdown in pay growth is another source of concern. Hourly average earnings had been rising at a 3.4% annual rate back in February, significantly above the 3% pace in October.

But reduced wage growth might be somewhat misleading. Employers are giving more opportunities to workers who usually start at lower wage levels, and that might have cut into the overall pay gains, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecuriter, an online job marketplace.

“Given the number of women, the number of Hispanics, the number of blacks, the number of young people entering the workforce,” she said, “it’s quite possible that the influx of all these workers are dragging that average down.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
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