The U.S. labor market strengthened in October, defying expectations for more subdued gains amid an intensifying pandemic and lack of additional fiscal relief.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 638,000 after an upwardly revised 672,000 gain the prior month, according to a Labor Department report Friday. That compared with the 580,000 median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, and reflected a decline of 147,000 in temporary Census workers.
The unemployment rate fell by 1 percentage point to 6.9% — a bigger drop than economists projected and double the prior month's decline — though the number of long-term jobless Americans surged and now makes up a third of those out of work.
Progress in the U.S. labor market is holding up as household savings help fuel spending and business investment rebounds, providing whoever wins the presidential election with an economy that's in better shape than many analysts expected just six months ago.