The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday released its October jobs report. The United States' economy added 250,000 jobs in October, beating expectations, and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent. The gains were broad-based—industries including health care, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and mining all added jobs in October. The prime-age labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratios, which have remained low and continued to trouble economists, rose slightly in October. Year-over-year nominal wage growth was an encouraging 3.1 percent, although economists suggest caution in interpreting those numbers.
Economists are describing the report in universally positive terms. "Workers are continuing to return to the labor market and many of them are getting jobs," wrote Elise Gould, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. "There's still work to be done to reach full employment, but this paints a very promising picture for the economy moving forward."
As the last official set of economic statistics that will be released before Tuesday's mid-term election, the strong jobs report should be good news for Republicans next Tuesday. Indeed, the president tweeted positively about the jobs report this morning.
It's unclear, however, how the economy is affecting voters' preferences at this point. In the most recent tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, voters rank "the economy and jobs" well behind "health care" as the most important factor driving their votes. On the other hand, in polling released Thursday, the Pew Research Center found that 75 percent of voters ranked health care as "very important" and 74 percent ranked the economy as "very important."
It's odd that, given the widespread belief that economic trends influenced the votes of many Donald Trump supporters (particularly in the Rust Belt), the president has chosen to focus so heavily on immigration in the final week of the campaign. He released a racially inflammatory advertisement earlier this week that has drawn condemnation from moderate Republicans, many of whom are increasingly concerned that such messaging risks accelerating the exodus of well-educated suburban voters from the GOP.