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Unemployment Rate Drops in October, Wages Rise

November 4, 2016, 1:00 PM UTC
Employers Post Most Job Openings In Four Years In June
A "now hiring" sign is viewed in the window of a fast food restaurant in New York City.
Photograph by Spencer Platt—Getty Images

The jobs market has continued its hot streak this fall.

Employers added a slightly fewer jobs than expected in October. But the unemployment rate dropped and the economy continued show that it was moving along, well past when most people expected it to run out of steam.

Last month, employers added 161,000 jobs to their payrolls. That was slightly less than the 178,000 jobs employers were expect to add in October. Still the unemployment rate fell to 4.9%. At the same time, there is evidence the long-expected wage gains are finally showing up. Average hourly earnings increased 0.4% in October, double the increase of the prior month. More importantly, the annual increase in wages for the average worker was 2.8%, the highest that measure has been since June 2009.

The October jobs report is another sign the economy continues to extend its slow expansion, seven years after the recession officially ended. Just four days before the election, the good jobs report could give a bit of a boost to Hillary Clinton, who is likely to maintain many of the economic policies of the Obama administration.

Friday’s number also gives the Federal Reserve, which is still looking to raise interest rates this year, more room to move. This will give investors more confidence that the Fed is likely to raise rates in December.