BLS Releases October 2018 Employment Data (Nov. 2018)
Nonfarm employers added 250,000 jobs, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, and hourly wages posted strong growth in October. The strong growth in the month was largely a bounce back from a hurricane-weakened September gain of 118,000 jobs (revised down from the initial release of 134,000). The three-month average is 218,000 jobs, roughly in-line with growth over the last four years.
Job gains occurred across a broad range of sectors in October including health care, manufacturing, construction, professional and business services, and transportation and warehousing. Health care added 36,000 jobs. Employment in manufacturing increased by 32,000, with durable goods dominating. Construction employment rose by 30,000, with nearly half the gain in residential specialty trade contractors. Professional and business services continued its growth trend, adding 35,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing added 25,000 jobs in October. Professional and business services (adding 516,000 jobs over the last 12 months) and health care (431,800) continued to be the biggest drivers of job growth; with solid gains over the year coming from construction and manufacturing.
While the unemployment rate was unchanged in October, the strong labor market is pulling more people into the labor market. The employment rate—or employment-to-population ratio (EPOP or the percentage of adults with jobs) rose 0.2 percentage points to 60.6, a new high for the recovery. The increased EPOP showed particular strength for prime-age workers (ages 25-54) with a gain of 0.4 percentage points to 79.7 percent.
The tighter labor market is showing some dividends in wage growth. The average hourly wage is up 3.1 percent over the last year—topping 3 percent for the first time since the recession. On a weekly basis, wages increased by an even stronger 3.4 percent.
In sum, this is a positive jobs report. The pace of job growth that began seven years ago is continuing, with the economy adding 2.1 million jobs during the first 10 months of the year. This growth rate is pulling more workers into the labor market, which is now tight enough to produce wage gains.
The full BLS press release on the October 2018 employment situation can be accessed in the link below:
The next employment situation report for November 2018 will be released on Friday, December 7, 2018.