November 7th, 2014 2:45 PM by Eric Fang
The labor market has made great strides this year, as the economy has averaged 229,000 new jobs per month in 2014, the fastest pace since 1999. However, key details in the latest report show more progress is needed.
The October Jobs Report showed that 214,000 jobs were created, below the 235,000 expected. Of importance to note: a big percentage of the gains were concentrated in retailers, restaurants and bars—all of which typically increase ahead of the holidays.
On the surface, there was good news as the Unemployment Rate fell to 5.8 percent from 5.9 percent, reaching its lowest rate since July 2008. However, wage growth remains tepid, as hourly earnings rose by only 3 cents, with the year-over-year increase at just 2 percent. And the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) came in at 62.8 percent, still near the lows last seen in 1978. The LFPR measures the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one, and it should be moving higher in a recovery.
In housing news, research firm CoreLogic reported that home prices, including distressed sales, rose at an annual pace of 5.6 percent in September. This was the slowest annual rate since August 2012, and well below the 11.8 percent gain recorded this past February. Housing price gains are definitely trending lower after their meteoric highs last year.