It’s the first Friday of the month, which means the US Department of Labor just released their jobs numbers for the month of October. Wooooo!
The economy added 250,000 jobs over the past month, which is even more than expected, leaving the unemployment rate at a still staggering 3.7%. This rate, the same as September’s, is the lowest since 1969. Wages are slowly growing too, up 3.1% from the previous year.
Real wages, however, are still improving at a desperately slow rate, indicating that the relationship between low unemployment and high wages may be different now than before (in 2000, for example).
Interestingly, labor force participation rose from 62.7% to 62.9%. This data point seems to confirm the idea that low labor force participation, particularly as a result of the recession a decade ago, means that the labor market is not actually as tight as unemployment numbers indicate.
How will this news impact voters in next week’s elections? Will this news inspire confidence in the President and his party, tax cuts, and tariffs? The Times reports that confidence is high among business leaders and consumers, but does this attitude reflect the average voter’s? In a time of growing inequality, it is possible that these macro effects will do very little for the lower or downwardly mobile classes.
The Times also cites a report from the Center for Financial Services Innovation that found a quarter of Americans can’t cover all of their expenses and a third can’t pay all of their bills on time. We should not be surprised if the message of a booming economy doesn’t seem to resonate with poll-goers on Tuesday.
PS This second article from the Times from a week and a half ago shows that weak wage growth is not a result of inflation, affected men and women in every age group, hurt all skill levels of workers, and hurt almost all occupations they examined, except for mining.