Economy Adds 250,000 Jobs in October, Employment Hits Recovery High

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy added 250,000 jobs in October as the employment rate or Employment-to-Population Ratio (referred to as EPOP, or the percentage of adults with jobs) rose 0.2 percentage points to 60.6 percent, a new high for the recovery. The strong October job growth was largely a bounce back from a hurricane-weakened September number of 118,000 (revised down from 134,000). The three-month average is 218,000, roughly in line with growth over the last four years.

While the unemployment rate was unchanged in October at 3.7 percent, the strong economy is apparently still pulling more people into the labor market. The EPOP for prime-age workers (ages 25–54) rose by 0.4 percentage points to 79.7 percent, a new high for the recovery. This is 0.8 percentage points above the year-ago level. The increase was for both prime-age men and women, with the EPOP for men now 0.5 percentage points above the year-ago level and women up by 1.2 percentage points.

While the EPOP for prime-age women is above its prerecession peak, it is still down by 1.5 percentage points from its peak in 2000. The EPOP for prime-age men is still 1.8 percentage points below its prerecession peak and more than 3.0 percentage points below its peak around 2000.

The tighter labor market is showing some dividend in wage growth. The average hourly wage is up 3.1 percent over the last year. Wage growth looks to be on an upward track. The annualized growth rate comparing the last three months (August, September, October) with the prior three months (May, June, July) is 3.6 percent. Manufacturing workers do not seem to be benefitting from this tightening, with wage growth of just 1.5 percent over the last year.

In terms of employment, less-educated workers continue to be the main beneficiaries of recent job growth. Over the last year, the EPOP for workers without high school degrees is up 1.5 percentage…

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