The U.S. economy added 128,000 jobs in October, beating expectations and alleviating concerns that multiple headwinds would take a toll on employment growth. In its monthly jobs report released Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reported that unemployment last month remained largely unchanged at 3.6 percent or 5.9 million people.
With enduring trade tensions and a major nationwide auto strike last month, analysts were expecting just 89,000 jobs to be added in October. Monthly employment growth so far this year now averages 167,000, which remains below 223,000 average monthly gains in 2018.
Industries with the greatest gains included food services and drinking places and social assistance, which 48,000 and 20,000 jobs respectively. The BLS also said Friday that a combined 95,000 more jobs were added in August and September than was previously reported.
President Donald Trump lauded the figures on Twitter Friday morning, saying that the jobs number was "a blowout" and that "USA ROCKS!"
Average hourly earnings for all private-sector, nonfarm workers in October increased by $0.06, a jump from the $0.01 decrease that was recorded in September. Over the past year, the BLS said, average hourly wages have grown by 3 percent.
"The October jobs report came in relatively strong, especially since it included significant but temporary job losses from the recently resolved GM/UAW strike," Doug Duncan, the chief economist at Fannie Mae, said in a statement. The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors, which ended last week after 40 days, was reflected in the jobs report, said the BLS, which recorded a decline of 42,000 jobs in the auto industry last month.
The strong jobs report, however, was partly overshadowed by another report released Friday by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), which showed that U.S. manufacturing continued to contract in October — its third consecutive month of decline. ISM first reported a manufacturing contraction in August, which ended 35 straight months of growth in the sector and sparked widespread concerns of a worldwide slowdown.
"Global trade remains the most significant cross-industry issue," Timothy R. Fiore, chair of ISM's manufacturing business survey committee, said in a statement. "Overall, sentiment this month remains cautious regarding near-term growth."
The BLS also reported Friday that general manufacturing employment fell by 36,000 jobs in October.
Both the BLS and ISM reports come just days after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates to spur and sustain economic growth. The quarter-of-a-point cut was the central bank's third slashing this year.
"Weakness in global growth and trade developments have weighed on the economy and pose ongoing risks," said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in a press conference Wednesday. "These factors in conjunction with muted inflation pressures have led us to lower our assessment of the appropriate level of the federal funds rate over the past year."