More Hiring, More Open Jobs: October 31 – November 4

The labor market held resilient in the early fall. Here are the five things we learned from U.S. economic data released during the week ending November 4. 


Employers continued to add workers in October. Nonfarm employers added a seasonally adjusted 261,000 workers to their payrolls. The Bureau of Labor Statistics measure was down from September’s 315,000 gain and the 12-month average of 441,917 net hires. The private sector added 233,000 workers, split between the goods-producing and service sectors by 33,000 and 200,000, respectively. Industries adding the most workers were health care/social assistance, professional/business services, leisure/hospitality, and manufacturing. Average weekly earnings of $1,124.01 were up 3.8 percent from a year earlier.

The separate household survey has the unemployment rate rising 2/10ths of a point to a still-low 3.7 percent. 22,000 people left the labor market as the labor force participation rate slipped 1/10th of a point to 62.2 percent. The 25-54 year old participation rate dropped 2/10ths of a point to 82.5 percent. The typical length of unemployment—8.1 weeks—was down 2/10ths of a week from September and nearly five weeks from a year earlier. 3.660 million people held part-time jobs but wanted a full-time opportunity (October 2021: 4.398 million), while the broadest measure of labor underutilization (U-6 series) edged up by 1/10th of a point to 6.8 percent (October 2021: 8.2 percent). 

There remain a lot of unfilled jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were a seasonally adjusted 10.717 million open jobs at the end of September, above the 10.280 million available positions the month prior. There have been more than 10 million open jobs for 15 consecutive months. Industries with more than a million open jobs included trade/transportation/utilities, professional/business services, health care/social assistance, and accommodation/food services. Hiring slowed, dropping by 252,000 to 6.082 million, continuing a wide gap seen in recent years. 5.688 million people departed their jobs in September, down 370,000 for the month. 4.061 million people quit their job (123,000 under August levels), while layoffs totaled 1.328 million (off 162,000 from the prior month).  

The Fed bumps up interest rates again. The statement released following the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting largely matched that released with the previous (September) meeting. This included noting “robust” job gains, “modest growth” in spending and production, and “elevated” inflation. The committee voted unanimously to boost the fed funds target rate by 75 basis points to 3.75 percent and to continue shedding Treasury and mortgage-backed securities that the Fed accumulated in recent years. One change is additional language that suggests that this may be the last of the big rate hikes: “In determining the pace of future increases in the target range, the Committee will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments.” 

Purchasing managers report weak manufacturing growth in October. The PMI, the headline index from the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Report on Business, slipped 7/10ths of a point to a reading of 50.2. The PMI has been above a reading of 50.0—the threshold between an expanding and contracting manufacturing sector—for 29 straight months, although this was the measure’s lowest reading during that stretch. Improving were index components for new orders, production, and employment, while that for inventories declined. Only eight of 18 tracked industries reported growth, led by apparel, nonmetallic mineral products, and machinery. Furniture manufacturing led the 10 industries that contracted in October. 

The services sector also wobbled in October. The Services PMI shed 2.3 points to a reading of 54.4. The Institute for Supply Management measure has been above 50.0 for 29 months, but this reading has been below its 12-month average of 58.2. Indices for business activity/production, new orders, and employment fell while the inventories measure improved. Sixteen of 18 service sector industries expanded during the month, led by mining, agriculture, and arts/entertainment. Noting the shared perception that “growth rates and business levels have cooled,” some survey respondents were “holding off on backfilling open positions.” 

Other U.S. economic data released over the past week:

  • Jobless Claims (Week ending October 29, 2022, First-Time Claims, seasonally adjusted): 217,000, -1,000 vs. the previous week, -77,000 vs. the same week a year earlier). 4-week moving average: 218,750 (-27.1% vs. the same week a year earlier). 
  • International Trade (September 2022, Goods and Services Deficit, seasonally adjusted): -$73.3 billion (+11.6% vs. August 2022; -6.4% vs. September 2022). 
  • Factory Orders (September 2022, New Orders for Manufactured Goods, seasonally adjusted): $551.0 billion (+0.3% vs. August 2022; +11.5% vs. September 2021).
  • Construction Spending (September 2022, Value of Construction Put in Place, seasonally adjusted annualized rate): $1.1811 trillion (+0.2% vs. August 2022; +10.9% vs. September 2021). 
  • Productivity (2022Q3-Preliminary, Nonfarm Labor Productivity, seasonally adjusted annualized rate): +0.3% vs. 2022Q2; -1.4% vs. 2021Q3.
  • Vehicle Sales (October 2022, Light Trucks and Automobiles, seasonally adjusted annualized rate): 14.897 million (+9.8% vs. September 2022; +12.7% vs. October 2021).
  • Bankruptcies (12-month Period Ending September 30, 2022, Personal and Business Bankruptcy Filings): 383,810 (-11.7% vs. 12-month period ending September 30, 2021).
  • Agricultural Prices (September 2022, Prices Received by Farmers, not seasonally adjusted) -0.2% vs. August 2022; +20.8% vs. September 2021.

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Kevin’s current employer. No endorsements are implied.

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