Hiring Recovers in October, Unemployment Rate Drops to 17-Year Low

November 03, 2017

The number of payroll jobs in October rebounded from the impact of September's hurricanes as employers added 261,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent, down from 4.8 percent a year ago and its lowest rate since the dot-com boom in 2000.  However, an unusually large drop in the labor force (-968,000) in September coupled with a significant drop in the number of long-term unemployed were the primary factors contributing to the decline.  Although average private-sector wage growth remains below pre-recession rates, the information industry (3.4 percent), financial activities (3.3 percent), professional and business services (3.1 percent), and leisure and hospitality (3.4 percent) are reporting strong year-over-year hourly wage gains.  In October, four industries accounted for almost two-thirds of the increase in payroll jobs:
  • Bars and Restaurants (+88,500);
  • Administrative Support Services, including Temporary Help (+29,800);
  • Manufacturing (+24,000); and
  • Health Care (+21,500).
Most other industries were little changed, with the notable exception of retail trade (-8,300).  However, storm-related volatility in both the employer and household surveys continue to cloud the labor market picture and it is likely to be a couple more months before it clears up.