Editor’s note: Dr. Michael Walden is William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at N.C. State University.


RALEIGH – Sometimes, things have a way of evening out.  While the September national job report was above expectations, the October report was below forecasts.

Non-farm payrolls were up 150,000, below the consensus forecast of 170,000.  This is the opposite of October when job gains were much higher than expectations.

Looking over the entire year, there is a clear pattern of a reduction in monthly job gains, which is exactly what the Federal  Reserve wants to achieve.

The Fed Board of Governors should be happy with this report, as it is consistent with their goal of a “soft landing” in the economy – that is, reducing the inflation rate without a recession.

[Earlier this week, Walden told TechWire about a recession being delayed, citing jobs in N.C. :Walden says data for September is “very positive” while the possibility exists for a continuing “robust” jobs environment. Thinking about a recession? Walden, who in the past has seen an economic slowdown as possibly hitting as 2023 ended, doesn’t see one until well into 2024 – if then.”}

While the jobless rate rose slightly to 3.9 percent from last month’s 3.8 percent, perhaps a more important indicator is the result for wage rates.  Year-over-year, average hourly wage rates rose 4.1 percent, more than the increase in consumer prices over the same time period.  This means workers are now seeing pay raises that exceed inflation.  However, while certainly encouraging, worker wage rate gains in total since the pandemic began in 2000 are still trailing price gains.  It may take workers a couple of years for the purchasing power of their wages to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

All in all, I think this was a positive job report, consistent with the goal of easing inflation concerns while still growing the economy.

More economic news

‘Very positive’ jobs picture likely means a slowdown pushed ‘well into 2024,’ economist says

September inflation numbers: ‘Good, bad, and uncertain,’ says NC State eonomist