The October 2019 employment report showed U.S. companies collectively added way more jobs than expected during the month, as robust gains in leisure and hospitality and persistent strength in health care offset expected softness in manufacturing.
The government reported Friday that payrolls increased by 128,000, easily besting the 75,000 estimate economists polled by Dow Jones had forecast. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6%, but held inches away from a 50-year low.
The government also revised September and August jobs numbers significantly higher: August’s initial 168,000 estimate came all the way up to 219,000 while September’s jumped from 136,000 to 180,000.
CNBC studied the net changes by industry for October jobs based on data from the Labor Department contained in the employment report.
The leisure and hospitality industry was by far the strongest during the month of October, adding over 60,000 jobs for the month and outpacing routine employment juggernaut health care by more than 25,000.
The Labor Department explained in a press release that much of the upswing in leisure and hospitality came from a surge in hiring at food and beverage establishments, which alone added more than 45,000 jobs for its best month since January.
“In October, notable job gains occurred in food services and drinking places, social assistance, and financial activities,” the government said in the report. “Employment declined in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing due to strike activity. Federal government employment also was down, reflecting a drop in the number of temporary jobs for the 2020 Census.”
Hiring in the manufacturing sector was soft during the month of October, but economists blamed the abnormally weak reading on a one-time and lengthy strike at General Motors. Manufacturing saw a net loss of -36,000 jobs for the month.
Health care — a consistent employment gainer — clinched the No. 2 place in October with a net gain of 34,000 payrolls.Health care has added 402,000 jobs over the last 12 months.
Professional and business services added 22,000 jobs amid gains in management consultant positions, computer system design and architectural and engineering services.
“The job market is resilient and brought a sigh of relief despite a quadruple whammy of labor shortages, the trade war, diminishing effects of the tax cut and slowing global economy,” wrote Sung Won Sohn, professor of finance and economics at Loyola Marymount University and president of SS Economics.
“Manufacturing shed 36,000 jobs, but would have shown a slight increase without the GM strike,” he added. “Manufacturing is a small percentage of total employment, but has a large spillover effect throughout the economy.”
Retail trade, which has lately posted a string of losses, managed to hold steady and even add a small number of jobs to help offset net losses for the year. Retailers added 6,100 jobs.
The government, which added a slew of temporary workers a couple of months ago to help with the 2020 census, saw net payrolls fall by 3,000 in October.