Economy Watch: Employment Rebounds in October, Adds 261K Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the headline unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent—the lowest rate in 17 years.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 2017
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 2017

Total U.S. payroll employment rose by 261,000 in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Nov. 3. Driving the rise was the fact that employment in food services and drinking places rebounded sharply (up 98,000 jobs), mostly offsetting a decline in September attributable mostly to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

There were also gains in October in industries that affect office space use, especially professional and business services. That sector added 50,000 jobs for the month, about in line with its average monthly gain over the last 12 months. Also, health care added 22,000 jobs in October, compared with 24,000 jobs per month thus far in 2017, and an average gain of 32,000 per month in 2016.

Impacting the industrial sector, manufacturing employment rose by 24,000 in October, with job gains in computer and electronic products (up 5,000) and chemicals (up 4,000). Manufacturing has added 156,000 jobs since a recent employment low in November 2016.

The increase in worker pay stalled in October. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls, at $26.53, were little changed in October (down 1 cent), after rising by 12 cents in September. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 63 cents, or 2.4 percent.

The BLS also reported that the headline unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent in October, from 4.2 percent the month before. The more expansive U-6 measurement of unemployment, which also includes people only marginally attached to the workforce, came in at 7.9 percent, down from 8.3 percent in September and 9.5 percent a year earlier.