The U.S. economy gained 261,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department reported Friday. The latest figure is down slightly from September but still well above economists’ predictions of a 190,000-job gain.
Despite high inflation, rising interest rates, slowing economic growth and deepening anxiety about a recession in 2023, the resilient U.S. labor market delivered another month of strong job gains.
Here are the sectors that added the most workers, along with those that are struggling to keep pace.
The healing market for health care workers
The health care sector led the U.S. last month with a gain of 53,000 workers, according to the Labor Department. A gain of 31,000 workers in physicians’ offices and hospital outpatient departments made up most of the industry’s gains and helped power a much better year for the beleaguered health care sector.
Hiring in health care has rebounded in 2022, bringing 47,000 new workers on average each month this year compared to 9,000 per month in 2021.
Economists say a combination of higher demand for non-emergency related health services that took a backseat during the pandemic and rapidly rising wages for health care workers have helped the sector bounce back.
Professional and technical services hold strong
The U.S. added 43,000 workers in professional and technical services last month, a broad category including consultants, architects, engineers and technicians.
Job growth in this sector can be a helpful sign of where the economy is going, since these services are often in higher demand when companies are expanding.
While job growth in professional and technical services has slowed slightly in 2022, the strong October showing is another sign of how sturdy the U.S. economy has remained in the face of many forces aimed at slowing it down.
“The jobs data highlights just how resilient the labor market has been in the face of stubbornly high inflation and a steep rise in interest rates so far this year,” Cailin Birch, global economist at the Economic Intelligence Unit, wrote in a Friday analysis.
Factories keep building a bigger workforce
U.S. manufacturing has bounced back to life since the start of 2021 and has continued to add jobs at a steady clip even in the face of rising interest rates, supply chain dysfunction and consumers shifting away from goods over the past year.
Manufacturers added 32,000 jobs in October, according to the Labor Department, just slightly lower than its average monthly gain of 37,000 this year. The sector is facing serious threats from higher interest rates and supply shortages, but had held on strong thanks in part to a glut of demand still lingering from the depths of the pandemic.
“Factory jobs continue to be a reliable engine of job growth, particularly for workers who aren’t seeking a four-year degree. The investments made over the past year in infrastructure, clean energy, EVs, and semiconductors should continue to pay job dividends next year and beyond,” Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said in a Friday statement.
“But there are threats to this growth: an overzealous Fed, global headwinds, and unwelcome pressure to lower tariffs and Made in America requirements.”
Leisure and hospitality serves up plenty of options
The leisure and hospitality sector is not the font of growth it was last year, when it added 196,000 jobs each month on average. But restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and accommodations still gained 35,000 jobs last month as it seeks to fill a massive labor shortage.
Leisure and hospitality was the sector hit hardest by the pandemic and remains a staggering 1.1 million workers short of its pre-pandemic employment total. Those who have stayed or joined the industry since the emergence of COVID-19 vaccines have been stuck meeting a surge in demand with fewer colleagues to help them, all while dealing with high inflation in the food sector.
“Given the continued demand for workers from businesses, it is unlikely that job gains will drop sharply in the near term,” said Ben Ayers, senior economist at Nationwide, in a Friday analysis.
“Job growth should remain solid into 2023, albeit continuing to gradually decelerate.”
Transportation is on the move, but warehouse jobs are harder to find
Job growth in the transportation and warehousing sector fell hard in October, gaining just 8,000 jobs after averaging a gain of 25,000 each month this year. But the split between the two is a window into how the U.S. economy is changing.
The industry added 13,000 workers in truck transportation, 7,000 couriers and messengers and 4,000 more jobs in air transportation — three parts of the sector still struggling with labor shortages and supply chain snarls.
But jobs in warehousing fell by 20,000 in October as major retailers continued to pull back investments they made earlier in the pandemic, when shipping delays and shortages made it difficult to satisfy customers.
“Warehousing and storage industries, a pandemic era winner, lost 20,000 jobs over the month, likely a result of the pivot away from goods consumption,” Nick Bunker, economic research director at Indeed, said in a Friday analysis.
The financial sector continues to fade
Rising interest rates and growing fears of a recession have hit financial markets hard. Jobseekers in the industry aren’t faring much better.
The financial sector in October added just 3,000 jobs, which the Labor Department does not consider a significant increase in employment. Rental and leasing services lost 8,000 jobs last month alone, likely due to the slowdown in the housing market caused by high mortgage rates.
Real estate brokerages, mortgage lenders and other firms dependent on strong housing sales have laid off employees and are bracing for more tough cuts as the housing market continues to slow. Higher interest rates also suppress investment activity, so trading firms are also looking at layoffs.
Mining, construction and retail trade also saw little job growth in October.
Source: The Hill