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October Payrolls, Average Hourly Earnings Miss Big Despite Strong Upward Revisions

Well, with virtually everyone expecting a 300K+ payrolls number after last month's negative hurricane-distorted print, and with whispers of a 400K print floating around, it only made sense that not only would payrolls disppoint, printing at 261K, one standard deviation below the 310K consensus estimate (and that even with a whopping 89,000 waiters and bartenders added)

...  but also that the far more important average hourly earnings number, which was expected to rise at a 2.7% rate Y/Y, also missed, printing at 2.4% instead with September revised lower to 2.8%. Worse, on a monthly basis, there was no wage increase at all, printing at 0.0% (technically it was a 1 cent decline), below the 0.2% expected, and the lowest since June 2015.

Average weekly earnings also disappointed, declining by 35 cents to $912.63, the first decline since May.

It is also notable that after the September surge, the number of employed Americans per the Household Survey tumbled by 484K in October, to 153.961 million.

That said, the real action this time was found in previous months, where September was revised higher from -33.000 to +18,000 while August was revised up from +169,000 to +208,000, for a totel two month revision of +90,000. Additionally, the unemployment rate dropped to a new cycle low, declining from 4.2% to 4.1%, below the 4.2% expected, while the underemployment rate declined to 7.9%, the lowest since the start of the century.

More details from the report:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 261,000 in October, after changing little in September (+18,000). Employment in food services and drinking places increased sharply over the month, mostly offsetting a decline in September that largely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. In October, employment also increased in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. 

 

Employment in food services and drinking places rose sharply in October (+89,000), following a decrease of 98,000 in September when many workers were off payrolls due to the hurricanes.

 

Professional and business services added 50,000 jobs in October, about in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months.

 

Manufacturing employment rose by 24,000 in October, with job gains in computer and electronic products (+5,000) and chemicals (+4,000). Employment in fabricated metals continued to trend up (+4,000). Manufacturing has added 156,000 jobs since a recent employment low in November 2016.

 

Health care added 22,000 jobs in October. Employment in ambulatory health care services continued to trend up over the month (+16,000). Health care has added an average of 24,000 jobs per month thus far in 2017, compared with an average gain of 32,000 per month in 2016.

 

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, changed little in October.

 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in October. In manufacturing, the workweek increased by 0.2 hour to 41.0 hours, and overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to  3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. 

 

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $26.53, were little changed in October (-1 cent), after rising by 12 cents in September. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 63 cents, or 2.4 percent. In October, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, at $22.22, were little changed (-1 cent).

 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised up from +169,000 to +208,000, and the change for September was revised up from -33,000 to +18,000. With these revisions, employment was 90,000 higher than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 162,000 over the last 3 months.