Employers Add 161,000 October Jobs


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 161,000 in October, while the unemployment fell slightly to 4.9 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

BLS revised August employment numbers up from +167,000 to +176,000 and September numbers up from +156,000 to +191,000, a net gain of 44,000. Over the past three months, job gains averaged 176,000 per month.

The number of unemployed persons, at 7.8 million, changed little in October. Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 59.7 percent, changed little. These measures have shown little movement in recent months, although both are up over the year.

John Silvia, chief economist with Wells Fargo Securities, Charlotte, N.C., said October’s solid gains and the previous months’ upward revisions bode well for a Federal Reserve move in December on the federal funds rate. “These gains are consistent with solid consumer spending and economic growth around 2 percent in the fourth quarter,” he said.

BLS reported the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in October. In manufacturing, the workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.8 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.6 hours.

The report also noted average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 10 cents to $25.92, following an 8-cent increase in September. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.8 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $21.72 in October.

“By most measures, the labor market has made significant strides in the seven years since the recession ended,” Silvia said. “However, some analysts argue that the labor market remains far from fully healed and question how close the labor market truly is to full employment.”