It's 2022 in a nutshell: The Federal Reserve keeps raising interest rates, and the U.S. economy keeps adding jobs — a pattern that the nation's top banker several times has said cannot hold.
Beating estimates by a wide margin, U.S. payrolls tacked on another 261,000 jobs in October. The report comes just days after the Fed announced its fourth consecutive 75 basis point rate hike, and Chair Jerome Powell again stressed the need for softening in the labor market if inflation is ever going to come down to the target range of 2 percent.
Unemployment, meanwhile, increased 0.2 percent to 3.7 percent — a slight uptick but still in the range of where it's been since March.
Here are some more key data points:
- By sector, health care led the way with 53,000 new jobs.
- Professional and technical services came in second with 43,000 new jobs, followed by manufacturing with 32,000 new jobs.
- Labor force participation barely budged at 62.2 percent, which is still down from the pre-pandemic rate of 63.4 percent.
- Black unemployment continues to outpace the average at 5.9 percent.
As for compensation, workers got another boost. Average hourly earnings went up 12 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $32.58. This brings the year-over-year gains to 4.7 percent.
While real wages (which factor in inflation) are still down around 3 percent year-over-year, according to the most recent federal data, there is evidence of more rapid wage growth among lower-income workers.
Powell on Wednesday said the Fed would like to see more easing in job and wage growth, but also noted that labor market softening could come in the form of fewer job openings, rather than a spike in unemployment or a significant drop-off in wages.
However, some are interpreting the bullish jobs report as another bad sign for the stock market, which is likely to endure more rate hikes.
"Today’s non-farm payrolls report will keep the Fed on track for more rate hikes," said David Russell, vice president of market intelligence at TradeStation Group. "Good news for the economy could remain bad news for the stock market with the 10-year Treasury yield now firmly established above 4 percent.”
The market's immediate reaction, however, was positive. The major indices rallied following the news that unemployment was ticking up.