United States adds 128,000 jobs in October, jobless rate rises to 3.6% amid General Motors strike

AFP Washington Nov 01, 2019, 06.20 PM(IST)

A representitive image. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The ranks of auto workers shrank by more than 41,000, according to the report, the biggest drop in that sector since October 2009.

The United States labour market took a punch in October from an extended strike at General Motors but the economy continued to add jobs at a solid pace, according to official data released Friday.

Employers added 128,000 net new jobs, well above expectations and gains in the prior months were revised up sharply, the Labor Department reported in the closely-watched monthly employment report.

Meanwhile, wages continued to climb, even as the jobless rate rose a notch to a still-low 3.6 per cent, matching economists' expectations.

Nearly 50,000 GM workers were called back to work this week following a six-week strike but not before the stoppage put a deep dent in October's auto industry employment levels.

The ranks of auto workers shrank by more than 41,000, according to the report, the biggest drop in that sector since October 2009, when the American auto giant was at the brink of collapse.

Elsewhere hiring was resilient, averting the dire outcomes some economists had predicted, as bars, restaurants and financial services companies continued to snap up new workers.

And even with the GM strike, the job gains in August and September were revised up by a combined 95,000, the Labor Department said.

Overall job growth has slowed in 2019 to a monthly average of 167,000, compared to 223,000 last year, as the supply of available workers dwindles and skittish companies hold off on adding workers amid concerns about the US-China trade war.

But low unemployment and steady job growth should continue to support consumer spending, which represents the lion's share of US economic activity.

Compared to October of last year, worker pay rose three per cent, meaning year-on-year wage gains have been at or above three per cent for 15 straight months.

The Federal Reserve this week cut interest rates for the third time in a row, moving to shield the economy from a global slowdown and the effects of US President Donald Trump's trade wars.

But Fed Chairman Jerome Powell signalled Wednesday the central bank likely will hold off on providing any further stimulus to the economy.