- Employment showed most widespread increase since December
- North Dakota had lowest unemployment rate in nation at 2.8%
Payrolls rose in 40 states and the unemployment rate fell in 32 as the U.S. labor market powered ahead in October.
California led the nation with a 41,200 increase in employment, followed by a 35,200 advance in Florida, figures from the Labor Department showed Friday in Washington.
The job market is “pretty solid overall, which is good news for the economy, for consumers and for the Fed as they’re looking to raise rates,” Jennifer Lee, senior in Toronto for BMO Capital Markets, said before the report. While pay has been slower to increase, “as long as we’re seeing some uptick in wage growth, that’s a good thing.”
Idaho showed the biggest percentage gain in employment last month with a 1.1 percent gain, followed by Alaska at 0.9 percent. Louisiana experienced the biggest percentage decline.
More states showed increases in payrolls in October than in any month since December, according to Bloomberg calculations.
The unemployment rate dropped the most in West Virginia, where joblessness fell 0.4 percentage point to 6.9 percent. Texas showed the only statistically significant increase in unemployment, where the rate rose to 4.4 percent from 4.2 percent in September.
North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in the U.S. at 2.8 percent in October. Even with the large decrease, West Virginia had the highest.
State and local employment data are derived independently from the national statistics, which are typically released on the first Friday of every month. The state figures are subject to larger sampling errors because they come from smaller surveys, thus making the national figures more reliable, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The national report showed payrolls across the U.S. climbed by 271,000 in October, the strongest increase this year, following a gain of 137,000 the month before. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent, the lowest level since April 2008.
Federal Reserve officials are monitoring payrolls and other labor market data as they try to determine whether the economy is healthy enough to withstand tighter monetary policy. The Fed has twin goals of full employment and steady prices, and last month’s jobs report may have given some Fed officials more confidence that their mandate can be reached.
In a statement following their October meeting, Fed policy makers made it unusually clear that an interest-rate increase would be considered at their “next meeting,” which is slated for Dec. 15-16. A majority of economists polled by Bloomberg News Nov. 6-12 saw liftoff next month.