By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER, Associated Press
Troy Warren for CNT #Business
WASHINGTON — America’s employers stepped up their hiring in October, adding a solid 531,000 jobs, the most since July and a sign that the recovery from the pandemic recession is overcoming a virus-induced slowdown.
Friday’s report from the Labor Department also showed the unemployment rate fell to 4.6% last month, from 4.8% in September. That is a comparatively low level but still well above the pre-pandemic jobless rate of 3.5%.
The economy’s emergence from the pandemic, by most measures, remains on course. Services companies in such areas as retail, banking and warehousing have reported a sharp jump in sales. More Americans bought new homes last month. And consumer confidence rose in October.
Still, the recovery would gain strength from a sustained acceleration in hiring. The economy grew at a healthy 6.5% annual rate in the first half of the year as vaccinations spread and Americans showed themselves more willing to travel, shop, eat out and attend entertainment events. Yet the delta variant held economic growth in the July-September quarter to a 2% annual rate and slowed hiring.
Friday’s report showed not only that employers accelerated their hiring in October but also that the job gains in August and September weren’t as weak as initially reported. The government revised its estimate of hiring for those two months by a combined 235,000 jobs.
Last month, hiring was spread across nearly every major industry, with only government employers reporting a job loss. Shipping and warehousing companies posted a gain of 54,000 jobs. Retailers added 35,000. The battered leisure and hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, bars, hotels and entertainment venues, gained 164,000 jobs.
And employers, who have been competing to fill jobs from a diminished pool of applicants, raised wages at a solid clip: Average hourly pay jumped 4.9% in October compared with a year earlier. Yet even a gain that strong is barely keeping pace with recent surges in consumer price inflation.
In Other NEWS