U.S. Employers Add 531,000 Jobs in October

531,000 jobs were added last month and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.6%.

U.S. employers added 531,000 workers to their payrolls in October and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.6%, down from 4.8% in September, as more Americans returned to the workforce amid declining COVID-19 cases and a rebound in economic activity. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) also reported that it revised the September and August payrolls higher by 235,000 jobs. Out of the 22 million jobs lost since April of 2020, 18 million have been regained, with 5.8 million of those in 2021. Monthly job gains this year have averaged 581,000.

Where the Job Gains Are

The biggest gains were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which also experienced the biggest losses amid the pandemic. That sector added 164,000 jobs in October, and has risen by 2.4 million so far in 2021. Restaurants added 119,000 of those jobs, while hotels added 23,000 workers. Still, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.4 million workers compared to February of 2020, or 8.2%, according to the DOL.


Despite the job gains, the labor force participation rate, barely budged in October at 61.6%, and has been stuck in a narrow range all year. That's a sign that while jobs are available, million of workers are continuing to wait on the sidelines to return to work. While the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), fell by 357,000 last month to 2.3 million, it is still 1.2 million higher than in February of 2020. The long-term unemployed account for more than 31% of the total unemployed people last month.

Wages Keep Rising

Wage growth continued its upward trend in October as employers have been raising compensation to lure workers back to their companies. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by $0.11 to $30.96, following large increases in the prior 6 months. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.9%.

Unemployment by Race

Unemployment by race continues to paint an uneven picture of the recovery in the labor market, although October did show small signs of improvement. According to the DOL, the unemployment rate for White workers fell to 4%, lower than the national average, while the unemployment rate for Black workers fell to 7.9%. Hispanic unemployment fell to 5.9%, and 4.2% for Asian workers.

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employment Situation Summary." Accessed November 5, 2021.