3 things to know about the October 2019 jobs report

bls jobs report updated

Job growth significantly outpaced expectations and unemployment increased slightly, but annual hiring still falls well short compared to 2018.

The U.S. economy added 128,000 jobs in October, vastly outpacing economists’ estimates of 85,000, according to Bloomberg. The unemployment rate crept upward to 3.6% as 325,000 more Americans reentered the workforce and started actively looking for work.

Here are some of the highlights from the report.

1. High job growth despite major strike

Despite economists’ concerns about how a 40-day strike by GM autoworkers and a decrease in Federal employment with the conclusion of the 2020 Census, the U.S. employers added 128,000 jobs last month.

USA Today: “U.S. hiring was surprisingly solid last month as employers added 128,000 jobs despite a General Motors strike that held down overall payrolls and the loss of 20,000 temporary census workers. The showing highlights a healthy economy that eases recession concerns.”

ABC News: “Friday's jobs report suggested that further job gains may be coming. Last month, the GM strike contributed to the temporary loss of 41,600 auto factory and likely other related jobs. But the settlement seems sure to lead to a return of those jobs in the coming months.”

CNBC: “Along with the better-than-expected performance in October, previous months’ counts were revised considerably higher. August’s initial 168,000 estimate came all the way up to 219,000 while September’s jumped from 136,000 to 180,000.”

2. Manufacturing industry remains weak

Though overall job growth surpassed expectations, several major industries continue to struggle, most notably manufacturing.

Bloomberg: “Manufacturers subtracted 36,000 jobs, the biggest drop since 2009, though it would likely have been a gain without the effects of the strike. Still, even excluding the impact of the walkout, the sector has become increasingly fragile amid slowing global growth, a strong dollar and an ongoing trade war with China.”

Washington Post: “The jobs gains in October came primarily in industries like health care and social assistance, which added 34,000 jobs, and leisure and hospitality industry, which added 61,000.”

CNBC: “At the industry level, the biggest job creation came in food services and drinking establishments, which added 48,000. While those positions are generally associated with lower wages, they also can reflect consumer demand and the willingness to spend discretionary money.”

3. Long-term concerns persist

Even taking October’s unexpectedly strong showing into account, there are still signs that the labor market is slowing down. However, many economists also point out that the economy appears to be more resilient than some had feared.

Reuters: “Job growth is slowing this year, averaging 167,000 per month compared with an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018, in part because of the nearly 16-month trade war between the United States and China, which has undermined business investment.”

Washington Post: “The slowing but positive growth, weaker business investment, and resilient labor market paint a picture of an economy that has decelerated a bit from 2018′s strength but doesn’t appear close to dipping into a recession, despite fears that were sparked several months ago.”

New York Times: “The labor market has been a bastion of consistency throughout the economic expansion, steadily adding jobs despite natural disasters, government shutdowns and political turmoil. The United States has now experienced 109 straight months of job gains, more than double the previous record.”

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