U.S. added 250,000 jobs, wage growth fastest since 2009


Federal economists reported 250,000 new jobs in October, the 97th straight month of gains, and the unemployment rate remained at a almost half-century low of 3.7 percent, underlining the strong fundamentals of the economy, despite stock market jitters.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%, a 48-year low, as more workers entered the labour force.

Still, the pay growth suggests the benefits of a healthy economy are rippling out to more people. That could lower the government's employment count when it's released Friday. PNC Bank predicts wage growth to average 3.3 percent next year, bringing it on par with 2007.

President Trump touted the figures in a tweet Friday, just days before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. "Wages UP!" "These are incredible numbers".

The president noted October's gain came "despite the hurricanes".

Hurricane Michael, which slammed into the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia last month, had no discernible effect on the jobs data, the government said. Average monthly hiring this year is above the pace of 2017.

Still, the latest month of healthy job growth might not tip many votes in the midterm elections.

USA employers added a stellar 250,000 jobs last month and raised average pay by the most in almost a decade.

Among the rosy employment statistics in Friday's monthly hiring report, one especially shines: Worker wages in the USA are finally taking off.

Employers know this well, as they continue to struggle to fill openings. That has been happening for higher-skilled workers such as engineers and welders.

Low-skill workers are now among the biggest beneficiaries of a strong labor market.

Retail hiring showed no growth on a seasonally adjusted basis. Hourly compensation also increased at a brisk pace in the third quarter.

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Firming wages support views that inflation will hover around the Fed's 2.0 per cent target for a while.

Jeffery Sanford Jr.is among the workers seeing his pay increase at a faster rate. Combined, the two quarters produced the strongest six-month stretch of growth in four years.

"Things are changing for me", Mr. Sanford said. Restaurants and hotels gained 33,000, a lot of them lower-paying.

Wages grew 3.1%, relatively robust growth after years of stagnant paychecks. And the increase in wages last month also partly reflected a one-time drop in pay a year ago because of Hurricane Harvey.

Good news for the economy is once again bad news for financial markets. "That translates into more consumer consumption and a lovely picture in terms of growing the economy into next year".

Weekly wages rose even faster than hourly wages at 3.4 percent over the past year, the strongest increase in 11 years. Americans increased their spending by 4 percent in the July-September quarter, the biggest acceleration in almost four years. Eighteen states have increased their minimum wages this year.

In years when the economy is performing poorly, the issue of jobs tends to poll much higher as a top concern. The Fed raised its benchmark federal-funds rate in September to a range between 2% and 2.25%, and most officials signaled they expected to lift rates by another percentage point through next year.

Industries adding jobs in October included healthcare (36,000 job additions); manufacturing (32,000); construction (30,000); and transportation (25,000).

The jobs news will nearly certainly overwhelm another piece of economic news released Friday - the trade deficit in goods and services, which widened in September as imports rose more than exports.

But finding those workers could be a challenge, said S.B. Cha, chief executive of the Hayward, Calif., firm. Early signs show both of those categories are ticking up slightly, though some companies have also used their tax cuts for stock buybacks instead of putting the money into investments or higher wages.

"Average wages are finally starting to pick up, especially for some lower-skilled positions", Chamberlain said.