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U.S. Unemployment Edges up to 3.9 Pct in October Amid Slowing Job Growth

U.S. employers added 150,000 jobs in October, falling short of expectations, with the unemployment rate ticking up to 3.9 percent, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday.

Job gains occurred in health care, government, and social assistance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said, noting that employment declined by 35,000 in manufacturing due to auto workers’ strikes.

U.S. employers added a downwardly revised 297,000 jobs in September. In August, the growth was also revised down to 165,000. With these revisions, employment in August and September combined is 101,000 lower than previously reported.

Since the recent low of 3.4 percent in April, the unemployment rate has been up by 0.5 percentage point, indicating slower labor market growth.

“The labor market remains tight but supply and demand conditions tend to come in better balance,” U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said earlier this week, as the Fed again left interest rates unchanged at a 22-year high of 5.25-5.5 percent.

“Reducing inflation is likely to require a period of below-potential growth and softening of labor market conditions,” said Powell.

The BLS report showed that the labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, was slightly lower than the 62.8 percent in September, and below the pre-pandemic level of 63.4 percent.

In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents, or 0.2 percent, to 34.00 U.S. dollars. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.1 percent.