The US economy added 261,000 jobs in October, the labor department announced on Friday in its last snapshot of the health of the employment market before next week’s midterm elections.
The latest report confirmed the remarkable strength of the US jobs market. The unemployment rate rose to 3.7%, still close to a 50-year low. The news comes after the Federal Reserve once again raised interest rates in an effort to slow investment and bring down inflation, a move that economists and the Fed predict will eventually cost jobs.
So far the Fed’s actions – the most drastic since the 1980s – seem to have had little impact on the US’s white-hot jobs market. Monthly job growth has averaged 407,000 thus far in 2022, compared with 562,000 per month in 2021. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic struck the US, job gains averaged 164,000 a month.
This week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 10.7m open job positions in the US in September, close to two jobs for every person looking for work and up from 10.3m in August.
On Wednesday ADP, the US’s largest payroll processing firm, reported private employers had added 239,000 positions in October, better than the 192,000 jobs added in September.
But ADP also warned November’s job gains were not widespread – the leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 210,000 of the jobs added – and there were signs of a slowdown in other industries.
Other surveys have found growing cracks in the post-pandemic job market’s recovery. US employers announced close to 30,000 job cuts in September, a 46.4% increase from the 20,485 cuts announced in August and 67.6% higher than the cuts announced in the same month last year, according to global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Twitter began laying off staff on Friday after Elon Musk’s takeover and Amazon has announced it is freezing corporate hiring. The ride-hailing app Lyft and online payments company Stripe have also announced significant layoffs. Other companies including Ford and Walmart have recently announced cuts.
Joe Biden appears to have won little credit for the remarkable recovery in hiring since the depths of the pandemic. Polls indicate that the state of the economy is the top issue for voters and lack confidence in the president’s economic leadership.