The U.S. economy added 204,000 jobs in October – double Wall Street’s forecast – despite a government shutdown that was expected to put a damper on hiring. And hiring for September and August were revised up by a combined 60,000, the Labor Department said Friday.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked up to 7.3% from 7.2% in what was likely a residue of the shutdown. Federal workers would have been classified as unemployed under the government’s method for calculating the unemployment rate. The largest slice of hiring in October took place at retailers, bars and restaurants, lower-paying establishments that tend to boost hiring temporarily for the holiday season.
Yet almost every industry aside from government added workers, the Labor Department reported. The surprising increase in jobs raises questions about whether the shutdown distorted the government’s normal process of collecting the data, but Labor officials said the response rate to its surveys appeared normal.
The upwardly revised gains in August and September suggest the economy might more strength than it appears. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected an increase of 100,000 jobs in October. The number of new jobs created in September was raised to 163,000 from 148,000, while August’s figure was upped to 238,000 from 193,000. Average hourly wages, meanwhile, edged up 2 cents to $24.10 while the average workweek was unchanged at 34.4 hours.