The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that payroll employment in the US rose by 250,000 in October, which is way above the expected figure of 190,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7 percent, the lowest figure since 1969. At 4.4, the Hispanic unemployment rate too came down to the lowest ever. The rise in Average earnings rose by 0.2 percent, 3.1 percent more than last year’s figure. The labor participation rate rose from last month’s 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent. Mark Hamrick, a Senior Analyst at Bankrate.com, observes that the coming together of these three factors—payroll gains, surge in wages and increase in labor participation—is something that is not often seen during the present economic expansion.
October thus becomes the 97th consecutive month of payroll employment growth, with the average monthly increases remaining above 200,000. This is usually understood as a clear sign of a growing economy. The annualized rate of economic growth in the third quarter stands at 3.5 percent. This is reflected in higher consumer spending, as well as the boosted confidence among business leaders. Wage growth also maintains an upward trend, in spite of some fluctuation. Michelle Girard, chief United States economist at NatWest Markets observes that the labor market situation is positive, making it the strongest part of the economy in general. She added that the trend in wage growth need not lead to an inflationary situation, and it is not really a thing that the Fed should worry about.
The state of the economy doesn’t normally become a determining factor in mid-term elections in the US. In the current election season, there are issues like health care, the migrant caravan, and the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination to capture voter attention. However, after a volatile October in the stock market, the data about a low unemployment rate comes in so handy that Trump mentions it in a tweet because the data indicate a robust economy. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report has had its impact on the market already. Stocks are moving up. And the market, always wary, is in the extreme alert mode, too.