The latest jobs report shows that our nation continues to bounce back from our worst economic crisis in generations. October was the most robust month of job growth in 2015, with total nonfarm employment increasing by 271,000.
Performance was especially strong in professional and business services, retail trade, and construction, which nearly doubled its prior 12-month average. Private employers have now added 13.5 million jobs over 68 straight months of growth, the longest such streak on record. The unemployment rate inched downward to 5.0 percent and has not been lower since February of 2008. Wages are up, as average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents in October and have enjoyed their largest over-the-year increase (2.5 percent) in more than six years.
Today’s report comes on top of other promising economic indicators. As of the end of August, there were 5.4 million job openings, the second most since we have been collecting that data. Over the 12-month period ending in September, gas prices fell 29.6 percent, putting more money in the pockets of working people. The U.S. auto industry, left for dead by many seven years ago, is surging back – the Big Three are now in the process of completing new collective bargaining agreements that will ensure their workers can get a fair share of the value they are helping create. In October as in September, auto sales maintained a pace that would surpass 18 million a year, the first time that has happened in back-to-back months since February 2000.
But our work is anything but done. There is ground to make up and challenges that remain. We need to continue creating jobs. We need a tighter labor market to continue putting upward pressure on wages. We need to close opportunity gaps and ensure that the wind at our back propels everyone forward.
President Obama and the Labor Department continue to take steps toward those goals: fighting for a higher minimum wage; investing in successful job-training strategies like the learn-while-you-earn apprenticeship model; giving people who have been involved in the criminal justice system greater access to job opportunities; and making affordable health care available to more people with the launch last week of the latest open enrollment period in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
With 14 and a half months to go in this administration – 441 days until “the weekend” – we want to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to complete the unfinished business of this recovery, to create shared prosperity and build an economy that works for everyone.