October jobs report shows robust economic growth

The economy added 271,000 jobs last month, outperforming employment gains seen in August and September. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. 

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee/File
In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 photo, job applicants fill out and turn in forms during a job fair at Dolphin Mall in Miami. The U.S. Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits during the week ending Oct. 17 on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015.

The October jobs report, released Friday morning by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), shows that the economy had significant positive gains last month. The US added 271,000 new jobs in October, while the “unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.0 percent,” according to the BLS.

A rate of five percent unemployment is generally considered by economists to indicate full employment across the board. But the economic participation rate – the number of people who have found jobs and joined the labor force – remained low: only 62.4 percent of adults aged 16 or older were either actively looking for work or working, the lowest proportion in nearly four decades.

Hiring in October was much stronger than it was August and September, when the economy added 153,000 and 137,000 new jobs, respectively. The August and September figures were adjusted by the government in the October report.

The industries that showed the most gains were “professional and business services, healthcare, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction,” according to the report. The only industry that showed a serious decline was mining, which shed 5,000 jobs in October.

Other industries, such as manufacturing, financial activities, and government, either remained flat or showed an increase.

“We sense that both American households and businesses are more conscientious than ever about their bottom lines, and are consequently looking to skilled professionals to achieve their respective financial goals. The list of the fastest-growing occupations in this sector, including personal financial advisors and financial analysts, reflects that demand,” Kevin Knapp, chief financial officer for Career Builder, told USNews.

In addition to jobs, The Wall Street Journal also reports that the dollar is up 1 percent against the yen, euro, and other foreign currencies.

“The US economy has just turned off gravity for the dollar,” David Lamb, of Irish financial services firm Fexco, told The Wall Street Journal.

This vigorous job growth, combined with a strong dollar, has led many financial analysts to speculate about whether the Federal Reserve will raise its interest rates in December.

In a meeting with the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday morning, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that that “[W]ould be a live possibility.”

“At this point, I see the US economy as performing well,” she said, but added that no changes were set in stone.

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