Americans on Friday will get one last glimpse at a key segment of the U.S. economy before next week's U.S. election.
The Labor Department publishes the October jobs report at 8:30 a.m. ET. It's arguably the most important measure of the economy's health. The report includes job growth, wages, hours worked, and quality of jobs created, among other items.
The U.S. economy has recovered a lot since the Great Recession ended in 2009. The unemployment rate today is around 5%, half of the painful 10% rate it had hit in late 2009, when the country was hemorrhaging jobs. Since then, the economy has created 13.7 million jobs.
However, it has been a long and slow slog to dig out of the recession.
And lately, even job growth has slowed. It's expected, since the economy is at the point that many economists consider fully employed. It's hard to keep adding loads of jobs forever. Last year,America added 2.6 million jobs,one of the best years of gains since 1999.
For October, economists surveyed by CNNMoney forecast that 177,000 new jobs were added, slightly higher than 156,000 jobs that were added in September. They also see the unemployment rate falling a tick to 4.9% from 5%.
To keep the unemployment rate where it is now, economists estimate that America only needs to add 50,000 to 100,000 jobs a month. So October's gains should be healthy enough.
2. Trump says the jobs numbers are bogus
Trump has consistently tried to discredit the official jobs numbers published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a wing of the Labor Department.
"The 5% [unemployment] figure is one the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics," Trumpproclaimedin August.
Trump's team also likes to say the"overall unemployment rate"is 9.7%, not 5%. But what he cites is a different, broader measure of employment than what the Labor Department reports.
That measure, called the "U6 rate," has never been used to describe the country's overall unemployment rate and economists say it is misleading to characterize it as such.
A letter signed by 370 economistsfrom around the nation this week urged voters not to vote for Trump and their first reason was that Trump has tried to discredit the country's fundamental institutions like the Labor Department.
People who were laid off and disappeared from the labor force because they were disheartened about not finding one, are now coming back to give job searches another try. It's a positive shift.
Since the recession, there has been a high level of what economists call "discouraged workers." The participation rate, a key measure of whether people are coming back into the job market, has inched up this year. It's increased significantly for Americans between ages 25 and 54 years old -- the people who are generally supposed to be working.
The pick up in "working age" participation shows people feel more confident about finding work.
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