Notes on today’s U.S. jobs report: A 3.7% unemployment rate and 250,000 new jobs

OVERVIEW

  • The unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in October with payrolls expanding by 250,000 jobs,according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • According to the BLS, Hurricane Michael, which fell while the agency collected data, had no noticeable effect on job estimates.
  • The Labor Force Participation (LFP) rose 0.02 to 62.9 percent. The Employment-population ratio also finished up for the month at 60.6 percent. The number of unemployed for the month was 6.1 million representing a decline over the year of 449,000 persons.
  • Job gains took place in, Health care (+36,000), Manufacturing (+32,000), Construction (+30,000) Professional and business services (+35,000) and the Transportation and warehousing sector (+25,000).
  • Mining grew by 5,000 jobs in October while Leisure and hospitality gained 42,000 withstanding the impact of Hurricane Florence. While employment was unchanged in this sector, the two-month growth matched the 12-month average at 21,000 per month.
  • In addition, according to the BLS, the following sectors saw little or no change in employment: Wholesale trade, Retail trade, Information, Financial activities and Government.
  • Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 83 cents or 3.1 percent. In October, the average hourly private non-farm wage rang in at $27.30, an increase of five cents. The average workweek for all employees clocked in at 34.5 hours.
  • The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons was unchanged at 4.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed also changed little at 1.4 million. This group represents 22.5 percent of all unemployed persons.

fredgraphManufacturingProductivity

ANALYSIS
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 250,000 in October.  Not knowing how to gauge weather interruptions from last month, Wall Street forecasts provided a wide range of payroll increases between 105.000 to 253,000  jobs.
The BLS revised numbers for September downward (from 134,000 to 118,000) and upward for August (from 270,000 to 286,000). These revised figures show that job gains have averaged 218,000 over the past three months.
The BLS reported 246,000 new private sector jobs were created compared with the ADP payrolls report released earlier this week of 227,000 private payrolls.
The continued growth in the manufacturing sector emerged as one of the highlights on today’s report. The sector has added 296,000 jobs over the past year— most of it coming from durable goods production. Here, in this sector, the workweek remained steady at 40.8 hours.
While the economy is at full employment, worker productivity is lagging. Output, the amount produced by workers, has been sluggish. At 1.3 percent in the most recent measure, productivity has failed to surpass 2 percent for the last 32 quarters. Nearly two decades ago, productivity gains fell regularly in the 3 percent range.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans noted the importance of productivity to the nation’s long-term growth in speech earlier this year. “Higher sustainable growth would be great. However, we can’t get there without boosting the underlying trends in labor input or productivity,” Mr. Evans said.
Manufacturing sector labor productivity increased 0.5 percent in the third quarter, according the third quarter report released earlier this week.  There’s some good news for workers: Average hourly earnings have recovered from the Great Recession but still below the 2008 pre-recession peak. Labor force participation, which has languished as a result of the retiring baby-boom workers inched up by 0.2 percentage point over the year.  These two trends point to mounting pressures on the Federal Reserve Bank to stick to its plan to raise interest rates through 2019.
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