The U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs in October, federal economists reported Friday in the government’s last labor market snapshot before the midterm elections.
The unemployment rate stayed at 3.7 percent, a 49-year low, and the typical worker’s earnings rose by 3.1 percent over the year that ended in October, the biggest leap since 2009.
“This is the best labor environment in over a decade,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US, an international consulting firm.
The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics arrives less than a month after Hurricane Michael pummeled the Florida panhandle and Georgia, knocking some people temporarily out of work and dampening economic activity in the southeast. Michael’s destruction followed Hurricane Florence, which devastated homes and roads in the Carolinas with flooding.
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President Trump celebrated the country’s rebound from the disasters Friday on Twitter.
“Wow! The U.S. added 250,000 Jobs in October — and this was despite the hurricanes. Unemployment at 3.7%. Wages UP!” he wrote.
The country now has 7.1 million job openings, a record high, the Labor Department announced Tuesday.
Analysts say America’s robust growth streak took off in 2014 and has largely kept pace since. The average number of monthly jobs added from 2015 to 2016 was 211,000, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The last two years have maintained that course.
Companies feel pressure to offer higher paychecks at a time when there are more jobs vacant than applicants to fill them, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at jobs site Glassdoor.
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“Average wages are finally starting to pick up, especially for some lower-skilled positions,” Chamberlain said. “Maintenance workers, bank tellers, cashiers, cooks — employers are running out of workers for many of these roles.”
Health care, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing fueled October’s particularly strong job growth.
Employment at hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities surged by 36,000 positions.
Manufacturing jobs jumped by 32,000, with the largest gains stemming from goods production. Construction expanded by 30,000 roles, nearly half of which focus on residential homes.
Transportation and warehousing saw gains of 0f 25,000, while leisure and hospitality recovered from September’s hurricane slowdown with 42,000 positions.
The country’s jobless ratehit a near half-century low in September. The president has embraced this data point. “Just out: 3.7% Unemployment is the lowest number since 1969!” Trump tweeted on Oct. 5.
Some analysts have tied rising pay to legislative moves. Eighteen states have increased their minimum wages this year.
Speaking Thursday at The Washington Post, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he stands against that kind of policy at a national level. “My view is a federal minimum wage is a terrible idea. A terrible idea,” he said, adding that pay restrictions hurts small businesses.
Markets jumped immediately after the release of the report on Friday, but had pared much of their gains by midmorning.
Job growth in the United States slowed considerably in September, thanks largely to Hurricane Florence’s devastating run through the Carolinas. About 313,000 people did not clock in at work in September because of the rough weather, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Federal economists revised September’s job growth down to 118,000 from 134,000 — a weaker showing, thanks to Florence. Economists say tens of thousands of others likely missed paychecks in October, due to the damage from Hurricane Michael.
Service and construction workers are most likely to lose shifts during and after major storms. Pounding rain shutters stores, wrecks roads and delays shipments of building materials.
Business falters amid severe weather, according to a Federal Reserve study. It can take months for economic activity to pick back up.
“You can’t work on a jobs site if it’s underwater,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union in Virginia.