Money & The Economy

Job Gains Fall Short Of Expectations As Unemployment Ticks Up

The U.S. added 150,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in October as the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released Friday.

Economists had anticipated that the country would add 180,000 jobs in October compared to the 336,000 jobs that were added in September and that the unemployment rate would remain at 3.8%, according to Reuters. On Wednesday, at the conclusion of its Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the Federal Reserve announced that it would be keeping its federal funds rate steady in the range of 5.25% and 5.50%, a 22-year high, after a series of 11 rate hikes that started in March 2022 in an effort to tame inflation.

“The data from the regional Federal Reserve banks, purchasing manager indexes, private payroll data, and other surveys are mixed but overall point to much lower job growth,” E.J. Antoni, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “I expect a weak nonfarm payroll number and anemic average weekly earnings. Additionally, this may be the turning point for manufacturing, but is highly unlikely to show a decline for the broader labor market. We should also expect the pattern of downward revisions to continue.”

The economy grew at a blistering pace in the third quarter of 2023, with Gross Domestic Product rising 4.9% year-over-year. The gain was driven by consumer and government spending, while average Americans drain their savings, boosting consumption.

Inflation remained elevated in September, rising 3.7% year-over-year, the same as in August, far from the Fed’s 2% target. Inflation has decelerated since its peak of 9.1% in June 2022.

“Last month’s jobs report was nowhere near as rosy as the headline numbers made it appear, as the hiring in September was essentially all part-time jobs and disproportionately public sector,” Antoni told the DCNF. “Also, real weekly earnings fell, both month-over-month and year-over-year. The broader economic outlook remains soft, with a recession likely in early 2024. Slower job growth, and then eventual job losses, will assist in determining precisely where we are on that timeline.”

While September’s job report showed higher-than-expected growth, the number of Americans employed in full-time jobs dropped by 22,000. In that same time period, the number of Americans employed in part-time positions increased by 151,000 as more Americans took part-time jobs and even second or third jobs to make ends meet.

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