The American economy added 214,000 new jobs in October, but about 90,000 of those jobs were needed just to keep up with population growth, so net job growth clocked in at 124,000. That’s about the same as last month—in fact, about the same as the past nine months—and it’s a fairly solid number. In addition, the headline unemployment rate ticked down to 5.8 percent, and this was a real gain, not a chimera due to more people giving up and leaving the workforce. In fact, both the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio were up.
This is all good news. It’s not evidence of a roaring economy, but it’s solid good news. As usual, the main blemish comes in wage growth, which continues to be stuck at about zero after accounting for inflation. In other words, the economy is growing, but it’s still not growing fast enough to truly tighten up the labor market. When we start seeing healthy wage gains, that will be the first sign that we’ve truly put the Great Recession behind us. We’re not there yet.