US employers added a robust 261,000 jobs in October as the economy recovered from hurricanes that slammed the Southeast in September, per the AP. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate declined to 4.1%, the lowest in nearly 17 years, from 4.2% in September. The burst of hiring (though it was actually below estimates of 325,000, per the Wall Street Journal) mostly reflects a rebound from a trio of hurricanes that temporarily depressed job gains. But it also shows that for all their fury, the storms did not knock the economy off course.
"Now that the storms have passed, the focus can return to the central question for the United States job market: With unemployment low, when will wage growth accelerate?" writes Ben Casselman at the New York Times. Average hourly earnings continue to rise at about 2.5% year-over-year, below the annual rate economists would predict when unemployment is this low. Over the past three months, hiring has averaged 162,000. That is similar to the pace of hiring before the hurricanes. Employers added just 18,000 jobs in September, as thousands of businesses were forced to close. That figure was revised higher from a previous estimate that showed a loss of 33,000. (Read more unemployment stories.)