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US adds 261,000 jobs as hurricane effect reverses
[WASHINGTON] US employers added the most workers in a year, rebounding from September's slowdown, as people resumed work after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Labor Department figures showed Friday. The jobless rate fell to the lowest since 2000 while wages stalled.
The report indicates the fallout from the hurricanes, which had depressed the labor market the prior month, largely dissipated in October. Jobs bounced back at restaurants and bars, which added 89,000 workers after a 98,000 drop in September.
Weather-related distortions may make it hard to read too much into the data until the end of the year. Still, economists expect a return to the underlying trend of steady, albeit slower, hiring that's still enough to keep pushing down the unemployment rate. The October drop in the jobless rate was due to the number of unemployed workers falling by less than the number of employed. Wages were a weak spot in October, though economists had penciled in a slowdown as low-paid workers at restaurants returned to their jobs, bringing down the average.
Even so, across the country, employers are reluctant to fire staff amid a shortage of qualified workers, while Americans are more upbeat about employment prospects. That bodes well for consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.
With payroll gains averaging about 162,000 over the past three months, the jobs report broadly provided more evidence the economy is approaching maximum employment, one of the twin goals of the Federal Reserve.
"Nonfarm payrolls for October could set the tone for a solid holiday shopping season and fourth quarter economic performance," Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West, said in a note before the report. "Initial jobless claims have already returned to pre-hurricane levels, pointing to a swift recovery for the U.S. labor market in the fourth quarter."