WASHINGTON (UPI) — After two extremely disappointing reports in August and September, the Labor Department on Friday said more than a half-million jobs were added to the U.S. economy in October — soundly beating what most analysts had predicted.
The department said in its monthly report that 531,000 jobs were added last month. In the run-up to Friday’s report, most economists projected about 450,000 jobs.
The official assessment came after the September report flatlined with about 300,000 fewer jobs than expected, and August’s being a few hundred thousand short of expectations.
“Job growth was widespread, with notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing and in transportation and warehousing,” the department said in its report. “Employment in public education declined over the month.”
The national unemployment rate last month dipped to 4.6%, the department said. Most experts predicted that figure would come in at 4.7%.
Before Friday, the last really positive jobs report was for the month of July, when the U.S. economy added close to 1 million new payrolls.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the jobs report at the White House just after 10 a.m. EDT.
Despite the disappointment of the September report, Biden said that it showed clear signs of progress.
“Jobs up, wages up, unemployment down. That’s progress,” he said.
“Right now, things in Washington are awfully noisy. Turn on the news and every conversation is a confrontation. But when you take a step back and look at what’s happening, we’re actually making real progress.”
Two days ago, ADP and Moody’s Analytics said in their monthly assessment of the private sector that the economy added about 571,000 jobs in October. The ADP and Labor Department reports, typically, are rarely similar because they’re fashioned on markedly different data.
On Thursday, the department said that new unemployment filings nationwide had nearly fallen to prepandemic levels. It said there were 269,000 new claims last week, just 13,000 more than the final figure that was reported before the impact of COVID-19 early last year.
The Federal Reserve also gave a nod to “the substantial further progress the economy has made toward the committee’s goals since last December,” as it announced plans to taper its pandemic bond-buying program beginning later this month.
Another reason for optimism with the October report is the decline in U.S. COVID-19 cases. The seven-day average fell from a peak of 175,800 in mid-September to about 73,000 on the final day of October, according to data reported by The New York Times.
“We think a big constraint or headwind causing some of the slowdown we’ve seen in recent months was COVID-related, and now it seems the cases and hospitalizations are trending in the right direction,” Bank of America U.S. economist Alex Lin said, according to CNBC.
On Thursday, Biden’s administration unveiled two vaccine requirement rules that the president said will help stimulate the economy. The two new rules require vaccination for about 100 million American workers.
About 84 million of the workers affected by the mandate have the option to undergo weekly coronavirus testing instead, and they would have to wear masks at all times in the workplace. For the roughly 17 million health workers covered by one of the policies, there is no testing option. They must be vaccinated.
“Vaccination requirements are good for the economy,” Biden said Thursday. “They not only increase vaccination rates but they help send people back to work — as many as 5 million American workers. They make our economy more resilient in the face of COVID and keep our businesses open.”
Vaccinations will also be available for children aged 5-11 beginning Nov. 8, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized inoculations for kids in the younger age group this week.
Reporting by Daniel Uria
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