US employers added a solid 128,000 jobs in October, a figure that was held down by a now-settled strike against General Motors that caused several thousand workers to be temporarily counted as unemployed. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate ticked up from 3.5% to 3.6%, still near a five-decade low, per the AP. For the second straight month, average hourly wages rose 3% from a year ago. The GM strike contributed to the loss of 41,600 auto factory jobs in October, but the settlement will likely lead to a rebound in the coming months. The report revised upward job gains in the prior two months by a combined 95,000, suggesting a healthier job market than initially believed.
Analysts expected employers to add 75,000 jobs, notes the Wall Street Journal, adding that Friday's number suggests the job market is strong despite labor and trade issues. "While investors will hang an asterisk on the October report, it will become clear if the recent downward trend in hiring remains in place once the effect of the GM strike is factored out of the jobs report," says Joseph Brusuelas, the chief economist at RSM, per the Washington Post. "It is important to note that overall hiring conditions remain relatively solid as the pace of overall hiring slows." Hiring has indeed slowed this year. Gains averaged just 167,000 in the past 10 months, down from a monthly average of 223,000 in 2018, according to Labor Department figures. (Read more jobs report stories.)