By NICK TIMIRAOS and JOSH ZUMBRUN
Job applicants fill out forms during a job fair at Dolphin Mall in Miami in October. WILFREDO LEE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The economy added more jobs in October than any other month this year and the unemployment rate ticked down to 5%, the lowest reading since April 2008. The monthly jobs report provides a rich snapshot of the state of labor markets. Here’s a look at the latest report.
With 271,000 jobs added in October, plus revisions that showed a net gain of 12,000 jobs than had been previously estimated for August and September, the U.S. economy has averaged 206,000 jobs a month this year. That is the second-highest level since 1999, surpassed only by the 236,000 average jobs added through the first 10 months of last year.
The hiring increase brings to 2.8 million the number of jobs added over the past year. That’s about the same as the level of a year earlier, but down from a high of 3.2 million in February.
The hiring gains pushed the unemployment rate to 5%. A broader gauge of unemployment that includes workers who have part-time jobs but would like full-time work fell below 10% for the first time since the spring of 2008.
Average hourly earnings rose 2.5% from a year earlier, the largest annual gain since the middle of 2009.
The share of the population either working or actively looking for work, known as the labor-force participation rate, was unchanged. The employment-to-population ratio climbed to 59.3% from 59.2%.
Among workers in their so-called prime working years, participation and employment rates are much higher. The share of people ages 25 to 54 in the labor force climbed to 80.7% from 80.6%. The employment-to-population ratio was unchanged.
After declining in each of the last two months, employment in private goods-producing sectors rebounded in October. Public-sector hiring has been relatively flat.
The median spell of joblessness edged downward to 11.2 weeks, the shortest since the recession.
The level of unemployment for those who’ve been looking for work for six or more months is slightly above the precession level and has steadily marched lower over the past four years.
As the recovery has progressed, fewer of the unemployed lost their jobs. A growing share of the unemployed are new entrants to the job market or people returning after having left, such as for school or to care for family members.
A wide discrepancy between workers with different education levels has persisted for decades, continuing through the recession and recovery.
The unemployment rate for people of both genders and all races has continued to come down. During the recession, men experienced higher unemployment rates, but these gaps are narrowing.