Job market bounces back in final pre-election report


Ahead of this morning’s jobs report, most projections pointed to monthly job growth in September around 188,000. The initial data suggests we did even better than that.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the economy added 250,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7%. Both figures point to a very healthy jobs landscape.

On a related note, the revisions for the two previous months – August and September – were roughly offsetting, with August’s totals revised up a bit and September’s totals revised down.

In terms of the larger context, this morning’s data points to 2.12 million jobs created so far in 2018, which is quite good, and which is an improvement on the totals from the first 10 months of 2017 (1.79 million). It’s also up over the comparable period from 2016 (1.99 million). That said, this year’s tally is still short of the totals from the first 10 months of 2014 (2.45 million) and 2015 (2.19 million).

When the White House says this is the best growth “ever,” it apparently means “since a few years ago.”

As for the political implications, Donald Trump has now been in office for 21 full months – February 2017 through October 2018 – and in that time, the economy has created 4.05 million jobs. In the 21 full months preceding Trump’s presidency – May 2015 to January 2017 – the economy created 4.47 million jobs.

The White House has not yet offered an explanation for why job growth has slowed since Trump took office.

Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly changes in total jobs since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction: red columns point to monthly changes under the Bush and Trump administrations, while blue columns point to monthly job changes under the Obama administration.

Update: Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.