The United States added a total of 150,000 non-farm payrolls in October, significantly lower than the median estimate of 220,000, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The unemployment rate for October also dropped to 6.9 percent compared to the previous month’s 7.9 percent.
These new numbers paint a mixed picture of the US labor market, which has been sluggish since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March. The decrease in payrolls suggests that some employers could be cutting jobs or refraining from hiring workers.
Nevertheless, the job gains are still impressive, with the services industry, which includes hospitality, transportation, retail, and health services, leading the way. The leisure and hospitality sector has been especially hard hit due to enforced lockdowns and other restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus. It led to an increase of 32,000 workers in the sector.
The rise in non-farm payrolls is likely to be an encouraging sign for President Trump and his re-election campaign, as hiring has increased since the start of the pandemic. However, the reported job gains are still far lower than the 22 million jobs lost in March and April.
The increase in payroll was lower than expected, but there are other indicators of improvement in the labor market. The number of job openings in September, for example, rose 4.1 percent from the month before. Moreover, the increase in the labor force participation rate for the month was also encouraging.
Overall, the report from the BLS is mixed. The smaller-than-expected payroll increase indicates that the US labor market may still be weak. On the other hand, the increased job openings and higher participation rate suggest that the market may be slowly improving. As the nation heads into the winter months, it remains to be seen if the job market will stabilize any further.