Economy adds 161K jobs in final report before election


U.S. employers added 161,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent as the labor market maintains steady improvement.

The Labor Department’s report, which was below economists’ expectations, is the last one before Election Day, giving Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump a final chance to make their cases on how the economy would run under their watch.

Jobs growth was revised up by 44,000 for the previous two months. In August, jobs went up to 176,000 from a previous estimate of 167,000, and September got a boost to 191,000 from 156,000.

Payrolls have grown on average by a healthy 176,000 over the past three months.

{mosads}In the past year, hourly earnings have risen by 2.8 percent, the fastest since June 2009. 

But how much this report influences the presidential election, which is only four days away and has already seen 34 million people cast their ballots, is difficult to gauge.

Trump and his campaign have regularly criticized the government’s monthly labor market report, going as far to say the data is fake or being politically manipulated to benefit President Obama and Clinton.

“This disastrous jobs report underscores the total failures of the Obama-Clinton economy that delivers only for donors and special interests and robs working families,” said Stephen Miller, Trump’s national policy director.

“Donald Trump has a contract with the American voter to end government corruption, create 25 million new jobs, raise wages and incomes and make America safe for all of our citizens,” Miller said in his statement. 

For her part, Clinton has said she would build on the progress made in the economy during Obama’s tenure by raising the minimum wage and pouring billions into infrastructure.

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said U.S. businesses have now added 15.5 million jobs since early 2010.

“Real wages have grown faster over the current business cycle than in any since the early 1970s,” Furman said in a statement. 

A Wall Street Journal reporter pointed out on Twitter that October’s unemployment rate is the second lowest for a presidential election cycle in the last 40 years:


Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have repeatedly charged in speeches and interviews that the jobless rate is actually much higher and that many more people are out of work than the Obama administration is willing to acknowledge.

Earlier this year, Trump said the “real” jobless rate could run anywhere between 24 and upward of 42 percent.

In a July interview on CNN, Trump Jr. said the jobs figures churned out by the government are “artificial numbers” that are “massaged to make the existing economy look good and make the administration look good when in fact it’s a total disaster.”

During his final presidential debate with Clinton last month, Trump called September’s job number of 156,000 “an anemic jobs report. A terrible jobs report.”

Trump said that if the September report was the last one before the election, “I should win easily.”

The September report was generally viewed as positive because more workers jumped back into the labor force, pushing up the unemployment rate to 5 percent with wage growth also on the rise.

Trump has said his economic plan would create 25 million jobs, which most economists say is a nearly impossible goal.

Jobs growth has slowed this year as the economy closes in on full employment, a point that could be hit next year.

But the rate of the labor market’s expansion is still fast enough to absorb the growth of the working-age population.

Healthcare added 31,000 jobs in October. The sector has added 415,000 jobs over the past year.

Employment in professional and business services added 43,000 jobs in October and 543,000 through 2016.

Construction employment rose by 11,000 jobs, while mining fell by 2,000 and manufacturing by 9,000.

Economic growth picked up pace in the July–September quarter to 2.9 percent from 1.4 percent in the previous three months. 

Updated at 10:24 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jason Furman
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