The U.S. economy is still chugging along.
After a monthly decline of 33,000 jobs in September, the U.S. added 261,000 jobs in October, sending the unemployment rate down to 4.1%. That’s the lowest rate since December 2000.
Granted the 261,000 figure was well below projections for 310,000 jobs.
However, "today's report, albeit a little bit mixed, is still a relatively decent number. It still points towards the positive trend that we've seen in payroll growth over the last several months and the last couple of years actually," said Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens Bank, as quoted by CNBC.
“For two months straight, the jobless rate has been below 4.3%, the level Fed officials in September estimated it would average in the fourth quarter. That means the job market is tightening more rapidly than officials expected. It is also well under the 4.6% jobless rate that officials see as the marker for a labor market running at full steam, a level known as full employment,” notes The Wall Street Journal.
Over the last month, we saw the biggest gains in employment come from the hospitality sector, following a decline accelerated by multiple hurricanes. In fact, jobs at food and drinking establishments jumped by 89,000. Professional and business service jobs were up by 50,000.
Manufacturing jobs were up by 24,000, and health care gained 22,000.
Even better, September numbers were revised higher from negative 33,000 to positive 18,000. August was revised higher from a gain of 169,000 to 208,000, as well.
So far this year, about 4.5 million people have now gone back to work, up from 4.3 million year over year. However, the wage issue is a bit troubling.
Hourly earnings for October came in at just 2.4%, shy of expectations for 2.7%.
Unfortunately, on a monthly basis, there were no wage increases at all, coming in flat, which is below expectations for a gain of at least 0.2%.
In theory, a tighter labor market should lead to higher wages and inflation.
We’re not seeing that at the moment, which is a bit odd. However, the Federal Reserve does not expect such soft readings to persist for long.
Overall, though, the economy continues to chug along at a solid pace, as the Federal Reserve looks to hike rates again at its December 2017 meeting. In fact, right now, according to the CME Group, odds of a 125 to 150 basis point hike are up to 96.7%.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Whatever that is, The Cheap Investor will keep you informed. Stay tuned.