In an unexpectedly downbeat jobs report, employers added only 38,000 jobs last month, the worst month for job gains since employment started recovering in 2010. Downward revisions trimmed the employment gains for the prior two months by 59,000, and the labor force participation rate fell again in May, as it had in April.
No one knows how tomorrow's October jobs report will affect Federal Reserve policymakers' views about whether to start raising interest rates in December. But here are some things to consider in assessing whether the job market is making the "continued progress toward maximum employment" that the Fed wants to see.
The nation's payrolls rose by only 142,000 last month, and job gains for July and August were revised down by 59,000, suggesting the pace of job growth has slowed in recent months. Analysts were expecting job growth of around 200,000, and the question is how much should it change our views about underlying labor market conditions?