The U.S. economy added a steady 161,000 to employee rolls in October as the nation’s unemployment fell to 4.9% just four days before the nation’s presidential election, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday (Nov. 4).
The “October surprise” was that U.S. wages rose to the highest level in a year. BLS data shows that average hourly earnings rose 0.4% from a month earlier to $25.92. The year-over-year increase was 2.8%, compared with 2.7% in the year ended in September.
In September, the U.S. unemployment rate was 5% and a robust 191,000 jobs were added to employer payrolls. In Arkansas, the September jobless rate rose one percentage point to 4% as the state’s tight labor pool added nearly 1000 new hires.
Thus far in 2016, employment growth has averaged 181,000 per month, compared with an average monthly increase of 229,000 in 2015. In October, employment continued to trend up in healthcare, professional and business services, and financial activities.
Health care employment rose by 31,000 in October. Within the industry, employment growth occurred in ambulatory health care services (+19,000) and hospitals (+13,000). Over the past year, the health care sector has added 415,000 jobs.
Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in October (+43,000) and has risen by 542,000 over the year. Over the month, a job gain occurred in computer systems design and related services (+8,000). Employment in management and technical consulting services continued to trend up (+5,000).
Hiring in financial activities also continued on an upward trend (+14,000), with a gain in insurance carriers and related activities (+8,000).
Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little over the month.