U.S. Job Growth Expected to Cool

Talmon Joseph Smith

Government data on Friday is projected to show that U.S. employment increased by about 180,000 jobs in October, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The report is also expected to find that gains in average hourly earnings were solid but decelerated to 4 percent from a year earlier.

The September report showed an unexpectedly strong gain of 336,000 jobs — a figure that will be revised Friday — and a year-over-year wage gain of 4.2 percent.

The October numbers may be held down because the survey was taken during major work stoppages — notably the strikes by the United Automobile Workers and related layoffs. Since then, the U.A.W. has reached tentative contract agreements with the three major U.S. automakers and told striking members to return to their jobs.

“We expect the October employment report to show a large deceleration in job growth, although the moderation will be overstated by the impact of striking autoworkers,” Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note. “Excluding those workers,” she added, “job growth will still be relatively robust, although narrowly based.”

Since early 2022, the benchmark interest rate set by the Federal Reserve has surged from near zero to more than 5 percent. The total number of business bankruptcy filings has increased for three straight quarters, according to court statistics. But overall corporate defaults are still considered tamer than prepandemic norms.

Some analysts say such trends can hold and become merely a sign of normalization. Others point out that such cracks can portend a larger breakdown.

The Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, and his fellow policymakers have decided to monitor economic signals before adjusting borrowing costs further.

“So far, the economy has been surprising in its resilience,” Mr. Powell said at a news conference Wednesday. “Given how far we have come,” he added, “along with the uncertainties and risks we face, the committee is proceeding carefully.”

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