Wages jump as employers add 250,000 positions
WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses ramped up hiring in October, and wages rose by the largest yearover-year amount in nearly a decade, a combination that is pulling a rising share of Americans into the job market.
In the final major economic report before Tuesday’s midterm elections, the government said Friday thatU.S. employers added a robust 250,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate stayed at a five-decade lowof 3.7 percent.
Healthy economic growth is spurring employers to hire at a rapid pace that shows no sign of flagging even with the economy in its 10th year of expansion. With the supply of unemployed dwindling, companies appear to be putting up generous enough pay raises to attract and retain employees.
Average hourly wages rose 3.1 percent in October from a year earlier, the fastest annual gain since 2009.
Still, inflation has picked up a bit in the past year as well, eating away at someof those pay raises. And the increase in wages last month also partly reflected a one-time drop in pay a year ago because of HurricaneHarvey.
Even so, October’s increase suggests that after a decade of anemic growth, wage growth is picking up. At the same time, an influx of new job-seekers increased the proportion of Americans with jobs to its highest level since 2009.
The economy has now added jobs for 97 straight months, a record.
That steady hiring has helped reduce the unemployment rate for Latinos to 4.4 percent, a record low. Teenage unemployment dropped last month to 11.9 percent, the lowest since 1969. And the proportion of Americans without a high school degree who are working has reached the highest point on records dating from 1992.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Sun Wong Sohn, chief economist at SS Economics. “Evidently, the word has spread that there are good jobs to be had at decentwages.”
Becky Frankiewicz, president of staffing firm ManpowerGroup North America, said companies are trying a variety of strategies to fill jobs.
Many retailers are removing the label “seasonal” from their job postings and looking for permanent workers instead. Others are dropping their requirements for a college degree.
“We absolutely see employers getting more and more creative about ways to get people in,” Frankiewicz said.
By some measures, consumers are the most confident they have been in 18 years, and their spending is propelling brisk economic growth.
The economic expansion is now the secondlongest on record, and October marked the 97th straight month of hiring, a record streak.
Strength in their cus- tomer demand has been a key factor leading companies to steadily add workers.
Though economists have predicted that hiring will eventually slow as the pool ofunemployedAmericans dwindles, there’s no sign of that happening yet.
The strong job growth and bigger pay increases will likely encourage the Federal Reserve to keep raising short-term interest rates. Most analysts expect the Fed to resume its rate hikes in December.
Hurricane Michael, which slammed into the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia last month, had no discernible effect on the jobs data, the government said. Still, October’s outsize gain might have reflected, in part, a rebound from September, when Hurricane Florence depressed job growth.
Hiring in October was strong in higher- and middle-income jobs.
Professional and business services, which include engineers, architects and accountants, gained 35,000 jobs. Manufacturers added 32,000 after two months of smaller gains, defying fears that Trump’s trade fights would slow hiring in that sector. Construction companies added 30,000 positions.
Job-seekers fill out applications earlier this year. Hourly wages rose 3.1 percent in October from a year earlier.