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Economy adds 214K jobs; jobless rate 5.8 percent

Economy adds 214K jobs; jobless rate 5.8 percent
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Employers added 214,000 jobs in October, fewer than expected, though the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, the lowest level since July 2008.

The new jobs report comes after voters showed Democrats their frustrations with the economy this week, sending a Republican majority to the Senate and giving Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE (R-Ohio) the largest GOP House majority since the 1940s.

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The report showed 31,000 more jobs in August and September, giving the labor market a nine-month streak of more than 200,000 jobs a month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday, the longest such stretch since 1995.

August’s figure was revised up to 203,000 from 180,000 while September saw a bump from 248,000 to 256,000. The jobs figure was close to the expectations of 225,000. 

White House officials touted the falling unemployment rate and the continued job growth.

Jason FurmanJason FurmanDon't just restore the state and local tax deduction The Republican Party is revitalizing the American economy under Trump Treasury: Trump's economic policies would pay for tax cuts MORE, chairman of the Council for Economic Advisers, said the unemployment rate is “falling as fast as at any point in the last 30 years, and the economy is on pace for its best year of job growth since the late 1990s.” 

“The economy has come a long way since the crisis six years ago, but more must be done to create jobs for those still searching for work and ensure that those who are working see the strengthening economy translate into rising wage,” he said. 

Furman highlighted that the private sector has added 10.6 million jobs over 56 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record. 

But Republicans argued the report showed more needed to be done for working families.

“While it’s welcome news that more people found work last month, wages remain stubbornly flat while costs continue to rise, squeezing middle class families and putting the American Dream further out of reach,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future MORE said in a statement.

"January will bring the opportunity to start making a real difference in the lives of struggling families," he added. "It is up to President Obama to start listening and work with the new Congress to get things done.”

"Over and over again voters have said that jobs and the economy are their top priorities," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus added in a statement Friday. 

"The president said his economic policies were on the ballot, and voters clearly believe we can do better. So now is the time to get to work — so we can get more people back to work."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called on Republicans to “end their relentless distraction, dysfunction and special interest obstruction, and put the middle class first.”

“Congress should act swiftly to pass common sense legislation to jumpstart the middle class and energize our economy,” she said.

Overall, employers have added 3.8 million jobs in the past 12 months — 2.3 million this year — the majority in the private sector. The last three months have averaged 224,000 new jobs. 

Since the beginning of the year, the unemployment rate and the number of the unemployed have declined by 0.8 percentage point and 1.2 million. A year ago, the jobless rate was 7.2 percent. 

Construction jobs were up 12,000 in October while manufacturing rose 15,000, good signs for the growing economy, especially as the housing market ramps up. 

The solid jobs numbers come ahead of the holiday shopping season with large retailers saying they are going to boost hiring. 

Consumer spending also is expected to be more robust this season, which would bolster the economy heading into next year. 

Spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity, also may get a bump from falling gas prices, which is putting more money in consumers’ pockets. 

The economy grew at a 3.5 percent annual pace in the July-September quarter, slightly slower than the 4.6 percent mark in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said last week.

“It feels like businesses have shaken many of their concerns and are now expanding their operations, which means more jobs,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Overall, the labor market has posted 49 straight months of growth — the last loss of jobs came in September 2010.

“Today’s employment report is an indication that we are on firmer turf,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation.

“The labor market is progressing steadily and hiring should be accompanied by increased business and consumers activity,” he said. 

Retailers added 27,100 jobs last month. Restaurants, hotels and entertainment businesses saw a 52,000 gain.

Still, wage growth remained stagnant last month with 0.1 percent monthly growth and a 2 percent increase in the past year. 

“Wage growth remains sluggish though,” Kleinhenz added. 

There were other bright spots in the report. The closely watched labor participation rate improved slightly and 267,000 people said they had finally found jobs, reducing the number of unemployed to right around 9 million. 

In addition, there were 683,000 more workers in the labor force with most finding full-time jobs, the report said. 

“Along with a rise in total hours worked [this report] underscores the continued improvement in the labor market,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group.

This story was updated at 10:37 a.m.