US Jobless Rate Falls to a 17-Year Low

Economy rebounds after hurricanes, adding 261,000 new jobs in October
November 3, 2017 Updated: November 13, 2018

WASHINGTON—U.S. jobs growth rebounded in October as labor market activity normalized after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The restaurant industry recorded the highest growth, as waiters, chefs, and bartenders headed back to work in Texas and Florida.

U.S. employers added 261,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest since 2000, according to the Labor Department report published on Nov. 3.

“The strong October number reflects a full return to work for those in weather-sensitive industries, as well as additional job growth from new economic activity,” President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers stated in a report.

“This year’s 3.0 percent annualized real GDP growth is translating into jobs for workers and expanded payrolls in the United States.”

The largest job gains over the month occurred in food services and drinking places, professional and business services, and manufacturing.

Employment in restaurants and bars increased sharply by 89,000, following a decrease of 98,000 in September, when many jobs were affected by the hurricanes.

“This is certainly welcome news after last month’s disappointing weather-driven top-line figure,” Elise Gould, senior economist at Economic Policy Institute, wrote in a note.

Professional and business services jobs increased by 50,000 last month, in line with the monthly average recorded over the prior 12 months period.

Manufacturers added 24,000 jobs in October. Manufacturing jobs have increased by 156,000 since the election in November 2016. Manufacturers predict that full-time jobs will grow by an average of 2.2 percent over the next 12 months, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). This is the fastest pace in the NAM survey’s history.

Meanwhile, average hourly earnings fell by one cent to $26.53 in October, after a 12-cent rise in September.

Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings increased by 2.4 percent, below consensus expectations.

“Wage growth was disappointing, with the year-over-year rate falling to 2.4 percent—the lowest since February 2016,” Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs, stated in a report.

While October posted a strong employment report, the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent was due to a decline in the labor force participation rate, according to EPI. The White House says that a mismatch between skills and jobs is keeping the participation rate low.

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