Economy Added 128,000 Jobs in October Amid GM Strike

Billy Ramos, right, fills out a job application with Adidas during a job fair in Miami on Oct. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(CN) – American employers added 128,000 jobs last month even as the market was dragged down by the General Motors strike, while the unemployment rate stayed near a 50-year low.

The number of new positions in October nearly doubles economists’ expectation of around 75,000 new jobs, a downturn predicted by a nearly six-week GM strike that resulted in more than 50,000 people being listed as out of work. That includes 46,000 striking members of the United Auto Workers union in addition to employees at suppliers and other companies affected by the dispute.

Without the strike, employers may have surpassed this year’s monthly average of 167,000 jobs added. By comparison, job gains averaged 223,000 a month last year.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked up from a 50-year low of 3.5% in September to 3.6% last month, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Average hourly wages are up 3% from a year ago for the second month in a row, and currently stand at $28.18 an hour.

The manufacturing industry as a whole lost 36,000 jobs in October, due mostly to the GM strike. Federal government jobs fell by 17,000 as 20,000 temporary census workers completed their assignments.

Restaurants and bars added 48,000 positions, followed by 22,000 new jobs in professional and business services and 20,000 in the social assistance sector. Health care added 15,000 jobs.

The government also revised August and September job gains upwards by a total of 95,000, signaling that hiring was stronger at the end of the summer than initially believed.

Friday’s employment report reflects a resilient job market in the face of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and global economic weakness.

While the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for a third time this year on Wednesday, it is not expected to do so again anytime soon and the solid job numbers reinforce that expectation.

Also on Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.9% from July to September, down slight from 2% in the second quarter.

Economists expect yearly growth of about 2.5% in 2019, compared to 2.9% last year. The economy is in its 11th consecutive year of growth, the longest streak on record.

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