Workers return to offices as jobs recovery accelerates
Leisure and hospitality leads gains as solid hirings in October help put labor market back on track
The stop-and-go jobs recovery was on the move again last month.
The U.S. economy added 531,000 new jobs in October, dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6 percent, according to the Labor Department, which revised September’s tepid hiring from 194,000 to 312,000.
“Job growth bounced back in October,” said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist of the Washington-D.C. based Mortgage Bankers Association. With average wage growth of 5 percent since last year, Fratantoni predicted that more people will return to the labor market.
The leisure and hospitality industry led the way with 164,000 jobs added back. Leisure and hospitality has hired back 2.4 million people this year, although it still employs about 8 percent, or 1.4 million, fewer people than it did before the pandemic.
More people headed back to the office in October after stalling in September. Remote workers represented 11.6 percent of the U.S. workforce, down from 13.2 percent in September.
Perhaps the nation’s hottest real estate asset class, warehousing and storage, added 20,000 jobs to the economy in October amid disruptions to the national supply chain, including shortages and slowdowns caused by the pandemic.
Strong job growth and persistent inflation has led the Federal Reserve to reduce its monthly bond purchases, including $5 billion less in mortgage-backed securities beginning this month.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said this week that ironing out supply chain kinks will aid economic growth and help reduce inflation. “We don’t think it’s time yet to raise interest rates,” Powell said, speaking for the Fed’s policy makers.
While the nation’s housing market remains “woefully short of inventory,” according to Frantoni, nearly 11,000 residential construction contractors were hired last month, making up about one quarter of all construction jobs added.
The retail industry, after hiring 35,000 people in October with most holiday shopping still to come, still employs 140,000 fewer people than before the pandemic.
An average of 582,000 new jobs have been added to the economy each month this year. The Labor Department revised August job gains for the second time, this time to 483,000 from 366,000. Still, 4.2 million fewer Americans are employed than before the pandemic.