The U.S. economy added a less-than-expected 161,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate stood at 4.9 percent as investors got to digest the final payrolls report before Tuesday's presidential election.
But the bigger number in the report could be wages, with average hourly earnings climbing 10 cents and reflecting a 2.8 percent annualized increase, according to the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number would seem to solidify a Fed rate increase in December, as the market has been expecting, though average weekly hours were flat at 34.4.
"The wage growth is something they've been looking forward to for a long time," said Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, a trade credit insurance firm. The move from a 2.6 percent growth rate in September is "progress. That doesn't scream inflationary pressure, but it's going the right way."
Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to grow by 175,000 and the jobless rate to tick down to 4.9 percent. A broader measure of unemployment that includes those who have stopped looking for jobs and those working part-time for economic reasons fell to 9.5 percent, the lowest level since April 2008.