The U.S. economy added 161,000 jobs in October and the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the September job total upwards to 191,000. The original September report put the month’s job gains at 156,000. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting the economy to add 173,000 jobs in October.
The pace of wage gains picked up in the month with average hourly earnings rising 0.4% in October. That took the year-over-year increase in October to 2.8%, up from 2.7% in September. The Wage Growth Tracker at the Atlanta Federal Reserve shows median pay rising an average of 3.6% over the last three months. That matches the fastest rate of wage gains since January 2009. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were looking for wages to rise at a 2.6% rate.
That increase in wages plus the upward revision in the September job total plus a solid number for October are almost certainly enough to keep the Federal Reserve on track for raising the Fed Funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point from the current 0.25% to 0.5% range at its December 14 meeting. That’s how the financial markets seem to be reading today’s report: The CME FedWatch site gives the odds of a December move at 71.5% today, the same as yesterday. (The site derives its estimate of the odds of an interest rate move by looking at pricing in the Fed Funds futures market.)
The official unemployment rate fell to 4.9% from 5%. The full unemployment rate, which counts discouraged workers and those in part-time jobs who would like full-time work, dropped to 9.5% from 9.7%.