Employers added 261,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.1 percent, its lowest level in nearly 17 years. But job growth was weaker than economists forecast. So was growth in wages: Average hourly earnings were up 2.4 percent from a year earlier, a slowdown from September’s growth, which was revised down to 2.8 percent. Workers have been waiting for the strengthening job market to lead to bigger paychecks.
Economists said the last two months’ jobs reports have been difficult to parse because of all the damage that hurricanes did across broad swaths of the economy. The government initially said employers cut 33,000 jobs in September, but it said on Friday that employment actually grew by 18,000 during the month.
Reports on the economy have been mostly encouraging recently, which has raised expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its next meeting in December. It would be the third increase this year.
Economists said Friday’s jobs report likely won’t change that timetable.
The Fed is slowly reining in the stimulus it provided the economy following the Great Recession. Besides gradually raising interest rates, it’s also trimming its bond-investment portfolio. Economists expect the slow pace to continue, even as a new chairman arrives. President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated Jerome “Jay” Powell to succeed Janet Yellen, whose term expires in February.