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Opinion
Justin Wolfers

Hazards and Head Fakes in Today's Employment Report

The October employment report warrants a big asterisk.

The October employment report seems, at first glance, to tell a very strong story, and it could be good news -- perhaps very good news. But given the asterisk next to today's numbers, anything more than cautious optimism is getting ahead of the data.

The payrolls survey suggests that the U.S. economy added 204,000 jobs in October, and upward revisions to previously released estimates for August and September added a further 60,000 jobs. The average pace for the past three months, which usually gives a better sense of the underlying trend, suggests that the U.S. economy is adding slightly more than 200,000 jobs a month. If that continues, the U.S. will make steady progress toward reducing joblessness.