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October jobs report smashes expectations, wages rise at fastest pace since 2009

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

The U.S. labor market continues to fire on all cylinders.

In October, the U.S. economy created 250,000 jobs, topping expectations, while the unemployment rate held at 3.7%, matching the lowest level since 1969.

Economists expected nonfarm payrolls grew by 200,000 in October with the unemployment rate forecast to hold at its multi-decade low of 3.7%.

Investors were more closely watching wage growth in October, which rose 0.2% over last month and 3.1% over last year, the fastest pace of annual wage gains since April 2009. Economists expected wages to rise 0.2% over last month and 3.1% over last year.

The unemployment rate held at a multi-decade low while job gains beat expectations in October. (Source: BLS)

The labor force participation rate also ticked up in October to 62.9%, a 0.2% increase from September.

In October, the economy added jobs in all major industries tracked by the BLS, with construction and manufacturing employment both rising by more than 30,000 in October. Education and health services saw the largest overall employment increase, with this industry adding 46,700 jobs last month.

Job gains in September were revised down to 118,000 from 134,000 in Friday’s report.

The BLS said in its release that Hurricane Michael, which made landfall during the report’s reference week, “had no discernible effect on the national employment and unemployment estimates for October.”

The underemployment rate, which includes folks out of work as well as those working part-time that would prefer full-time employment, fell to 7.4% in October, its lowest level since April 2001.

Overall, Friday’s report is likely to affirm the Fed’s forecast that it will raise the target range for its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points in December, marking the fourth time this year the central bank has raised interest rates.

Following this report, U.S. stock futures were mixed with stocks paring some of their overnight gains and Nasdaq futures turning negative. Shares of Apple (AAPL) were down as much as 6% in pre-market trading after the company’s earnings on Thursday afternoon disappointed investors.

Ahead of the jobs report, stock futures were higher across the board with the pop in markets attributed to a Bloomberg News report that President Donald Trump has asked his team to draft potential terms of a trade deal with China.

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland