US adds robust 250,000 jobs; pay growth fastest since 2009

Justin Sullivan  Getty Images North America

Justin Sullivan Getty Images North America

Polls have suggested that while Americans generally approve of the economy's performance, that sentiment hasn't necessarily broadened support for President Donald Trump or for Republican congressional candidates.

The number of jobs added in September was revised down to 118,000 from the 134,000 originally reported. Average hourly earnings for private workers advanced 3.1 percent from a year earlier, breaching 3 percent for the first time since 2009, while the unemployment rate held at a 48-year low of 3.7 percent.

The report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics arrives less than a month after Hurricane Michael pummeled the Florida panhandle and Georgia, knocking some people temporarily out of work and dampening economic activity in the Southeast.

On the wages front, last month's 3.1% growth rate after years of stagnant paychecks was somewhat inflated since wages declined in October 2017 as low-wage workers returned to their jobs following a particularly strong hurricane season. Given that the number of job openings around the US has exceeded the number of job-seekers since March, it's likely businesses will have to try work harder to attract employees, said PNC Senior Economist Bill Adams.

The jobs report should bolster the Trump administration's talking point on the economy ahead of next week's midterm elections and cement expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its meeting in December. Hourly compensation also increased at a brisk pace in the third quarter.

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Oxford Economics said higher wages could spur inflation concerns among Fed policymakers. The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding the volatile food and energy components, which is the Fed's preferred inflation measure, has increased by 2.0 per cent for five straight months. Still, October's outsize gain might have reflected, in part, a rebound from September, when Hurricane Florence depressed job growth.

Stock futures rose on Friday after the release of the report. Prices of U.S. Treasuries were lower.

"A tight labor market causes employers to compete for the workers they want to attract and retain, and one way they compete is on salary", Adams said. Openings exceeded 7.1 million, according to the government's most recent count.

And central bankers have made clear they expected to continue to gradually raise the benchmark lending rate for some time, including an expected three increases next year. Workers at United States Steel Corp are set to receive a hefty pay rise also. Economists had been expecting fewer new jobs after the slowest growth so far this year was recorded in the previous month.

"We're going to continue to see solid job gains".

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The dollar pared Thursday's losses against a basket of currencies following the jobs report, heading back toward its highest level in more than a year.

The employment-to-population ratio rose to 60.6 per cent, the highest since January 2009, from 60.4 in September. Education and health services saw the largest overall employment increase, with this industry adding 46,700 jobs last month.

The top-line job creation number marked a vast improvement over a relatively weak September.

Construction employment rose by 30,000 in October, with almost half of the gain occurring among residential specialty trade contractors.

The gains in jobs and pay took a toll on the bond market, however.

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Employers added 250,000 new jobs in October, far more than economists had expected.

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