U.S. Job Growth Gets Back on Track in October With 531,000 Gain


The U.S. economy added 531,000 in October, a strong number that indicates a growing recovery as coronavirus cases declined across the country.

The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent.

The country still has over 4 million jobs fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic hit the country, but that number has been trending steadily down over the course of the year after the recovery petered out around the end of the year in 2020.

Hiring growth was widespread in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, with gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing.

Job reports for the previous two months, which had come in below estimates after the Delta surge had shaken the confidence of many businesses, were revised upward as well, to 483,000 for August and 312,000 for September.

October hiring moved faster as tolls from the delta variant of the coronavirus pandemic eased.

New unemployment claims have fallen every week for more than a month, down to a pandemic low of 269,000.

Economists have long said the public health crisis is the most major impediment to recovery. The pandemic in recent months has taken a heavy toll on parents, particularly mothers, many of whom dropped out of the workforce to care for their families.

Anecdotally, some business owners say they’ve been able to make more progress in hiring up in the last six weeks. Business surveys, such as IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index, show that service sector employers — the largest portion of the economy, by far — are increasing workforce numbers at the quickest rate since June when the country added nearly 1 million workers to the payrolls.

And consumer confidence, the engine of the U.S. economy, reversed a months-long slide in October to mark higher numbers, according to the Conference Board’s monthly survey. Consumers were also the most optimistic about their own prospects to find jobs since 2000, the survey found.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell have said they believe that child-care issues and related challenges are some of the biggest forces holding back the labor market. But these problems might take time to address.

new report from the Brookings Institution argues that reopening schools won’t be enough to resolve recent gender disparities in the labor market. Women are overrepresented in some of the sectors that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, and some may decide not to go back into work for other reasons, the authors argue.

“As schools have started up with a universal return to in-person education, we may see a rise in the labor force participation rates of women with young children,” the authors, Stephanie Aaronson and Francisca Alba wrote. “That said, the outbreaks of covid-19 may discourage some mothers from returning to work, particularly those with unvaccinated children at home. Moreover, the quarantining that has occurred at some schools has generated considerable uncertainty, which itself may be a drag on women’s return to work.”

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