The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that nonfarm payrolls increased by a surprisingly strong 271,000 workers in October. This was well above the consensus estimate of around 180,000, and it suggests that hiring has begun to rebound again after a lull in August (153,000) and September (137,000). Even with some progress this month, it is worth noting that nonfarm payroll growth has averaged 206,200 per month year-to-date, down from 280,833 per month in the second half of last year. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 5.0 percent, which was the lowest level seen since April 2008. Moreover, the so-called “real” unemployment rate – which includes marginally attached workers by those employed part-time for economic reasons – was 9.8 percent, the first time this rate has fallen below 10 percent since May 2008. It peaked at 17.1 percent six years ago.
The overall strength in this report should serve to enhance the chances that the Federal Reserve will begin to raise short-term interest rates at its December meeting, which was already becoming the conventional wisdom. (continue reading…)