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Economy adds 128K jobs in October, exceeding expectations

by Sylvan Lane, The Hill

The U.S. added 128,000 jobs in October, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), trouncing expectations even as the economy continues to slow under global pressures and trade tensions.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent in September, while the labor force participation rate was little changed at 63.3 percent.

Economists widely expected an October jobs gain of less than 100,000 workers, largely due to the fallout of the 40-day General Motors strike. The United Auto Workers work stoppage took 42,000 auto workers out of the job market and hindered some GM suppliers, according to BLS, temporarily shrinking the labor pool.

Even so, sharp increases in restaurant and bar employees, social services workers and financial sector hires helped push the job gain well above economist projections.

The August jobs gain was also revised up from 168,000 jobs to 219,000 jobs, while the September report was revised up from a 136,000-job gain to 180,000. The revisions add a total of 95,000 more workers to the annual increase, pushing the average monthly jobs gain over the past three months to 176,000.

The surprisingly strong jobs report helped soothe some fears of a broader economic slowdown after data released Wednesday showed the U.S. economy slowing over the third quarter.

President Trump hailed "a blowout JOBS number" in a Friday tweet, but appeared to conflate revisions to past job reports and the impact of the GM strike with other aspects of the report.

"This is far greater than expectations. USA ROCKS!" Trump tweeted at 8:52 a.m., appearing to violate the one-hour ban on executive branch commentary on sensitive economic data. White House officials typically wait an hour until after the report is released at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the jobs data.

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