State of the Labor Market

October Jobs Report: Wage Growth Isn’t the Only Good News


It is astonishing at this point in the recovery that we have had four months this year of job growth at or above 250,000. In addition, we finally saw wage growth pop above 3%.

Don’t dismiss the wage number because of weather last year. Even if wages had held steady from September to October 2017, wage growth this month would have hit 3.0%, so weather problems shouldn’t make people sneeze at the wage number. Of course, if we continue to get weather events at the pace we’ve seen recently, accounting for weather could become even more difficult moving forward.

We also saw the percentage of the prime-age population with a job pickup again after plateauing for much of this year. Women have continued to lead the charge in employment growth: since January, the prime-age employment-population ratio has gone up 1.2 percentage point for women and 0.3 percentage point for men.

While we didn’t see any improvement in the share of the labor force that is working part-time but wants a full-time job, or that is stuck in long-term unemployment, overall this is an incredibly strong jobs report, particularly this far into a recovery. With wage growth finally hitting 3% and a strong payroll number, it’s easy to get excited about these numbers.

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