The job market rebounded strongly in October from the hurricane induced job slump in September. Averaging the job gains of the past several months shows a jobs gain of closer to 175,000. This is probably not too far off the economy's underlying job growth – abstracting from temporary factors, like the hurricanes, and the monthly vagaries of the data, which there are always many.
Job growth is thus close to double the growth in the labor force. The labor force has been growing more quickly as of late, last month's dip aside, as labor force participation has improved somewhat with the better job market. Workers disenfranchised during the tough economy of the past decade have been coming back to work. However, this has largely played out, and participation will soon begin declining again as the large baby boomer cohort continues to retire en masse.
The tight labor market is getting tighter. Unemployment fell again last month, and is on track to fall through 4 percent by early next year. The last time we experienced sub-4 percent unemployment was briefly at the end of the technology boom around Y2K. Like then, labor shortage are becoming a big problem for businesses in many industries and regions of the country – there are a record number of open job positions – and this problem is sure to become even more acute.