The final major economic report before Tuesday’s congressional elections showed that U.S. employers added a stellar 250,000 jobs in October and raised average pay by the most in nearly a decade. At the same time, the unemployment rate remained at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent. Friday’s employment report from the government pointed to a consistently robust job market that shows no sign of flagging even with the economy in its 10th year of expansion. Many employers have been struggling to find qualified applicants, which helps explain why average pay rose 3.1 percent over the past 12 months — the fastest year-over-year increase since 2009. Those higher wages may be drawing more people into the labor market. An influx of new job-seekers increased the proportion of Americans with jobs to its highest level since 2009.
By some measures, consumers are the most confident they have been in 18 years, and their spending is propelling brisk economic growth. The economic expansion is now the second-longest on record, and October marked the 100th straight month of hiring, a record streak. Strength in their customer demand has been a key factor leading companies to steadily add workers. Though economists have predicted that hiring will eventually slow as the pool of unemployed Americans dwindles, there’s no sign of that happening yet. Still, the latest month of healthy job growth might not tip many votes in the midterm elections. Polls have suggested that while Americans generally approve of the economy’s performance, that sentiment hasn’t necessarily broadened support for President Donald Trump or for Republican congressional candidates. The strong job growth and bigger pay increases will likely encourage the Federal Reserve to keep raising short-term interest rates. Most analysts expect the Fed to resume its rate hikes in December.