Hiring bounced back last month, with the Friday (Nov. 5) Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing 531,000 new jobs added, beating the 450,000 forecasted by economists polled by Bloomberg.
The addition of new jobs comes as the unemployment rate dipped to 4.6% from 4.8% as COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant continue to slide and more people are getting vaccinated and receiving boosters. Economists expected the jobless rate to fall to 4.7%. The labor force participation rate was unchanged.
Job gains were revised up in August and September for a total of 235,000 new positions added. The country has recovered 81% — 18.2 million — of the 22.4 million jobs lost when the pandemic took hold in March 2020, according to media reports.
The hardest-hit industry — leisure and hospitality — added 164,000, with restaurants and bars adding 119,000. Professional and business services added 100,000, while manufacturing added 66,000. Factory employment went up by 60,000, the most since June 2020, while government jobs dropped.
Average hourly earnings increased 4.9% from October 2020, the most since February, although inflation is negating some of the paycheck gains. The surge in prices is the most in 30 years on a year-over-year basis, driven by supply chain bottlenecks and shortages.
“We have high inflation, and we have to balance that with what’s going on in the employment market,” the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday (Nov. 3) after the central bank’s policy meeting. “It’s a complicated situation.”
The Fed also said Wednesday that it plans to stop bond buys, which have been underway since the pandemic took hold.
“For the last 25, maybe 30 years, labor has been on its back heels and losing its share of the economic pie,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told The New York Times. “But that dynamic is now shifting.”