WASHINGTON – U.S. employers added a decent 161,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate ticked down to 4.9 percent from 5 percent. It was the final report on a lukewarm but durable economy before Americans choose a new president next week.
The Labor Department says average hourly pay took a big step higher last month, rising 10 cents an hour to an average $25.92. That is 2.8 percent higher than a year ago, the biggest 12-month increase in seven years.
The pickup in hourly pay follows a substantial increase last year in earnings for the typical household. The economy appears to be finally delivering widespread raises after years of sluggish pay gains. With the unemployment rate near healthy levels, businesses are likely trying harder to attract workers.