Unemployment rate stays at 3.7% as 250K jobs added in October

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"The report shows a booming USA economy with a sufficient whiff of wage inflation to keep the Fed on track to raise rates in December and at least twice next year", said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds in NY. The Labor Department's snapshot of the US job marketplace easily beat economists' expectations of only 188,000 job gains and a jobless rate of 3.7%, according to the Wall Street Journal's monthly survey.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1% to 34.5 hours in October.

The U.S. economy posted an unexpectedly strong gain in jobs in October while average wage growth topped 3% for the first time in nine years.

Still, inflation has picked up a bit in the past year as well, eating away at some of those pay raises.

The October wage figures are the latest in a string of positive data indicating that workers' paychecks are-finally-getting fatter. Still, the pay growth suggests the benefits of a healthy economy are rippling out to more people. (People who don't have a job aren't counted as unemployed unless they're actively looking for work.) In October, the proportion of Americans with jobs reached its highest level in 10 years.

FILE- In this January 30, 2018, file photo, Loredana Gonzalez, of Doral, Fla., fills out a job application at a JobNewsUSA job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla.

Job growth in the USA slowed considerably in September, thanks largely to Hurricane Florence's devastating run through the Carolinas.

The economy needs to expand by about 120,000 jobs a month to keep up with new workers coming in.

Last week, the government estimated that the U.S. economy grew at an annualised rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, above Wall Street expectations.

"It doesn't get any better than this", said Sun Wong Sohn, chief economist at SS Economics. She felt she needed a high enough hourly wage to make up for the cost of child care for her three children.

Becky Frankiewicz, president of staffing firm ManpowerGroup North America, said companies are trying a variety of strategies to fill jobs. "If that is starting to crack, we might see millions of more people joining the labor force".

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"As long as job growth is steady, the jobless rate is low, and wages continue to edge higher, as long as we continue to keep climbing, that's the basic support that you need for the consumer", said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at Bank of Montreal in Toronto.

For a US economic expansion now in its 10th year, hiring remains robust, growth has picked up and the outlook is a mostly bright one on the eve of congressional elections.

The resulting strength in customer demand has led companies to steadily add workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said last month that Hurricane Florence may have depressed job growth, but that Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle had "no discernible effect". Manufacturing, which has been a focus of President Donald Trump's policies, added 32,000 jobs. But Fed policymakers expect growth to slide to 2.5 percent rate next year and to 2 percent in 2020.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2 per cent from the prior month, also matching analyst projections, following a 0.3 percent gain, the report showed.

October also marked the second month in a row that a hurricane had landed in the middle of the survey - meaning the figures could be subject to extra volatility, Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.

There were also big gains in manufacturing, construction and professional and business services payrolls.

Hiring spanned all sectors. Construction expanded by 30,000 positions, almost half of which focus on residential homes.

Retailers barely hired, adding just 2,400 positions, possibly reflecting the Sears bankruptcy.

A strong labor market and rising wages should provide a boost to the housing market, which has seen sales fall in comparison to past year with the uptick in rates. Four years ago, the Baltimore resident and Army veteran said he was working two near-minimum-wage jobs at restaurants and sleeping in a homeless shelter. The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding the volatile food and energy components has increased by 2.0 percent for five straight months. But economists said it's still encouraging, as the pay increase remains well above the inflation rate, meaning that workers' pay is actually raising their standard of living. The Federal Reserve's preferred price measure rose 2 percent in September compared with a year earlier, slightly lower than the year-over-year increase in August.

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