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U.S. Hiring Surges as Eyes Turn to Fed

WASHINGTON—U.S. employers hired at their strongest clip this year in October and wage growth picked up, signs of reassurance for Federal Reserve officials as they weigh an interest-rate raise before year’s end.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 271,000 in October, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added a combined 12,000 more jobs in September and August than previously estimated, bringing the three-month average through October to 187,000.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector workers rose last month by 9 cents to $25.20 from October, and are up 2.5% from a year earlier. That’s a notable rise from the 2% average pace during the six-year expansion, suggesting that the economy is gaining traction and the steady pace of hiring is finally translating to long-awaited wage growth.

The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate survey of U.S. households, fell slightly to 5.0% in October, the lowest reading since April 2008 and down from 5.1% the prior month. It’s also a notch closer to Fed officials’ 4.9% median projection for its normal long-run level.

“From all sides, the October employment is very strong, painting a bright outlook for the economy,” said AllianceBernstein economist Joseph Carson in an analyst note. “The Federal Open Market Committee has no more excuses of delaying a gradual normalization of official rates.”

Officials on the FOMC, the Fed’s policy-setting panel, are looking for signs that the economy is moving toward full employment and that inflation will eventually head toward the central bank’s 2% target before they...