October Jobs Report Live Updates: The US labor market is expected to slow again

October Jobs Report Live Updates: The US labor market is expected to slow again

Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

The latest snapshot of the economy will arrive on Friday morning when the government releases its monthly report on the labor market.

This report will be especially important because it will offer Americans a final look at the state of employment, wages and unemployment before the midterm elections. Federal Reserve officials are also watching the numbers closely to gauge whether their aggressive efforts to curb inflation are working, allowing the central bank to hold off on raising interest rates.

Forecasters polled by Bloomberg expected employers to add 200,000 jobs last month, a modest decline from the 263,000 jobs added in September and further indication that the labor market, while still strong, is cooling.

“The labor market is very tight, but we’re starting to see it soften,” said Sarah House, an economist at Wells Fargo. “When I think about where we are and where we’re going, I feel like employment is losing altitude, but for now it’s a controlled descent.”

One possible wrinkle that could skew the numbers is the effect of Hurricane Ian, which swept through Southwest Florida in late September and destroyed countless businesses.

Economists — and the Federal Reserve — will also be scrutinizing two other data points in the report: average hourly earnings and the labor force participation rate. Both are key to understanding whether the supply and demand for workers are coming into balance. That would give the Fed some confidence that rapid wage growth, which is contributing to rising prices, is slowing.

Central Bank policy makers on Wednesday increased interest rates another three-quarters of a percentage point, and hinted at plans to continue raising them, albeit perhaps at a slower pace as they try to stem the fastest inflation in generations. The next meeting of the Fed’s policy-making committee is scheduled for December 14.

Economists expected the labor market to weaken as higher interest rates hamper business growth. So far, however, employment has been remarkably resilient even as other parts of the economy, such as the housing market, have slumped.

Job vacancies rose to 10.7 million in September, after a significant drop in August. That increase means there were roughly 1.9 jobs for every unemployed worker. The number of people who left their jobs – typically a sign that workers are confident they will find better – fell to 4.1 million but remained high. Layoffs remained low overall.

The labor market is “clearly tight enough to support above-average job growth,” said Daniel Zhao, an economist at career site Glassdoor. “But the question is how much cooling is actually happening. I think that’s a difficult question to answer.”

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