The US added 531,000 jobs last month, beating expectations as hiring bounced back amid economic pressures from the labor shortage and supply-chain constraints that weighed on corporate earnings, the feds said Friday.
October’s numbers topped economists’ expectations of 450,000 jobs added, and comes after the country added a disappointing 312,000 jobs in September, according to revised figures released Friday.
September’s jobs report was revised upward from 194,000, nearly doubling that month’s gains and August’s report was revised up to 483,000, from 366,000.
At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped more than expected to 4.6 percent in October — the lowest since February, 2020, and down from 4.8 percent in September— according to Friday’s highly anticipated jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s still far higher than the 50-year low of 3.5 percent reported in February of last year, before the pandemic gutted the economy, but represents steady progress as the labor rebound continues.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected to see the unemployment rate tick down to 4.7 percent.
Friday’s report comes after a separate release from the Labor Department showed Thursday that the number of Americans newly seeking jobless benefits dropped again last week, inching closer to pre-pandemic levels amid the historically tight labor market.
The recovery in the labor market stalled out this summer amid a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. Economists say that child-care concerns, especially with schools out for the summer, likely also kept would-be employees at home.
But now, with schools back and the surge in COVID cases subsiding, economists expect to see the recovery in the job market march forward this fall — barring another flare-up in COVID cases.
Companies appear eager to hire across the board, though employees are more willing to quite their jobs than ever before, according to federal data.
There were more than 10.4 million unfilled jobs at the end of August, a drop from July bust still near an all-time record, the Labor Department’s data shows. At the same time, 4.3 million workers left their jobs, more than ever before, according to the data.
And employers, meanwhile, have been complaining that the nationwide labor shortage is holding them back from producing and delivering goods.
Despite concerns over the recovery of the labor market and supply-chain issues holding back sales, officials at the Federal Reserve have voiced optimism about the state of the economy.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell said Wednesday that the economy is now strong enough to begin tapering the Fed’s bond-buying program that’s given stocks a lift throughout the pandemic.
At the same time, Powell said the Fed is still leaving interest rates near zero — even as inflation stays stubbornly high — emphasizing that he still thinks rising prices will abate as supply chain kinks are worked out.