Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 250,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in health care, in manufacturing, in construction, and in transportation and warehousing.
The unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in October, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 6.1 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.4 percentage point and 449,000,respectively. (See table A-1.)
In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents to $27.30. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 83 cents, or 3.1 percent.
An Eye on Wages
With the jobless rate at record lows, sluggish wage growth has been a continuing concern. Although the unemployment rate has consistently surfed below the levels reached in 2000, at the height of that expansion, wages have been growing at significantly slower rates.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West. But after inflation is taken into account, real wages are creeping along at a very slow pace.
Coming Off the Bench
Since the recession ended, analysts have struggled to understand how many more potential workers are out there. Before the financial crisis, more than 66 percent of the population 16 or older was working or looking for a job. In recent years, that rate has rarely risen above 63 percent.
Many of those workers will never rejoin the labor force — some have reached retirement age, others have seen their skills lose value, and a number are too disabled to work. Economists have had a spirited debate over how many more people could be lured back to the labor market. The relatively languid pace of wage growth could be evidence that there are still people on the sidelines who would be willing to take jobs if it seemed worth while.
So far this year, the labor force has been growing by roughly 70,000 people a month — way below the average hiring figures. Help is not coming from abroad: The number of immigrant visas issued by the government has declined for two years in a row.
“The underlying fundamental drivers of the economy — and the labor market is an important one — are strong,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman. “What’s so impressive to me is there have been more jobs than workers every month since March of this year.” Openings exceeded 7.1 million, according to the government’s most recent count.
Employers say they are on the hunt for workers. “I speak to probably a thousand businesspeople a month,” said Rick Lazio, a former Republican congressman who is now a senior vice president at Alliantgroup, a tax-credit consulting firm. Midsize manufacturers are turning down lots of business, he said, “because they can’t find the people and they can’t get the equipment fast enough.”
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at U.S. Added 250,000 Jobs in October; Unemployment at 3.7% – The New York Times