Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Economist Michael Madowitz released the following statement on the September October 2016 employment situation figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the BLS, the economy added 161,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent. Earnings were up an especially healthy 2.8 percent over the year.
This month’s report follows 2016’s trend of healthy job growth and a tightening labor market finally delivering real wage gains to workers. Beneath the top-line numbers, today’s report is much more exciting than it appears at first glance. The U.S. economy is adding workers; seeing faster, more broad-based wage growth; and creating jobs on a sustainable long-term trend at a faster pace than experts predicted was possible just a few years ago. A labor market that continues to defy expert predictions and add jobs without producing inflation is probably the most important economic story of 2016, and one the media should cover more.
The continued strength of the labor market may be one reason that last week’s new data show that GDP is growing faster than expected, at nearly 3 percent. The longer this trend continues, the better off economic fortunes will be in the long run. But this is no time for complacency. The results of Tuesday’s election will have a meaningful impact on both how fast the economy grows and who sees the benefits of that growth. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve will decide next month whether to keep interest rates where they are in the context of a surprisingly strong 2016 that revealed more upside in the economy than expected. And next year, a new president and Congress will face the tall task of working together to build on this year’s successes in job creation.
Related resource: The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-November 2016 Jobs Release by Michael Madowitz, Gregg Gelzinis, and Annie McGrew
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