Payrolls jumped 204,000 as U.S. economy weathered shutdown

Auto Industry

Factories added 19,000 workers in October, reflecting in part gains in the automobile industry. Retailers added 44,400 jobs and employment in the leisure industry climbed 53,000.

Government employment decreased by 8,000 in October as federal agencies cut payrolls.

Average hourly earnings increased by 0.1% to $24.10 in October from the prior month, and climbed 2.2% over the past 12 months.

The average work week for all private workers held at 34.4 hours in October.

Workers at America’s top federal contractors were among those affected by the lapse in appropriations. Lockheed Martin Corp., which had $36.9 billion in government contracts in 2012, put 2,400 workers on leave the second week of October.

URS Corp., a provider of engineering and construction services, furloughed about 3,000 employees, saying the total includes employees idled by the closing of a government facility where they work as well as those directed by U.S. officials to halt operations or cut staffing.

Third Quarter

A report yesterday showed household purchases and business spending on equipment slowed in the third quarter, even as buildup in inventories unexpectedly boosted the pace of economic growth.

The 2.8% annualized gain in gross domestic product followed a 2.5% increase in the prior three months, Commerce Department figures showed. Final sales, which exclude unsold goods, rose 2% in the third quarter as consumer spending climbed at the slowest pace since 2011 and corporate investment fell.

Still, many retailers are taking on workers as they look ahead to the most important time of the year for sales.

Seasonal Jobs Inc. is among those hiring. The world’s largest online retailer is creating more than 70,000 full-time seasonal jobs in its U.S. fulfillment centers during the holidays to meet increased demand and expects to convert “thousands” of those positions to permanent roles after the season ends as it did in 2012, according to a statement.

In the three months ended in September, payrolls climbed 143,000 on average, less than the 195,000-a-month gain in the first half of 2013. Through September, the U.S. had recovered 7 million of the 8.7 million jobs lost as a result of the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009.

Fed policy makers said last week they needed to see more evidence the economy will continue to improve before they trim $85 billion in monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage debt. Fiscal policy “is restraining economic growth,” the Federal Open Market Committee said Oct. 30 at the end of a two-day meeting in Washington.

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