Strong Job Gains, Weaker Participation

By Ben Sirois, Economist, Dodge Data & Analytics

BEDFORD - November 3, 2017 - Nonfarm payrolls fell below consensus predictions last month, adding a seasonally adjusted 261,000 jobs in September, short of the 313,000 predicted in a Bloomberg poll of economists. While this gain is the largest in over a year, economists had predicted a stronger rebound in hiring following the negative reading last month due to hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Significant upward revisions for the previous two months suggest the effects from the weather events were less than initially feared. Job gains for August were revised upward by 39,000 and September payrolls were adjusted upward by 51,000, adding 90,000 jobs in revisions to the past two months. With these changes, the 2017 year-to-date average sits at 169,000. The strong gain in October has lifted the average back to its pre-hurricane level and suggests continued moderate job growth moving forward. Labor force participation fell 0.4% to 62.7%, holding essentially flat over the past 18 months. The unemployment rate fell to 4.1%, below the estimated 4.2% due to the decline in participation in the labor market.

The private sector added 252,000 jobs in October, led by a significant increase in leisure and hospitality (+106,000), almost completely erasing the September decline of 110,000. Other sectors that saw significant gains include professional and business services (+50,000), education and health services (+41,000) and manufacturing (+24,000). Total construction payrolls continue to post gains, adding 11,000 in October, led by specialty trade contractors (+10,400) and residential builders (+7,200). Nonresidential building and heavy/civil engineering payrolls saw modest declines of 3,300 and 3,000 respectively. The public sector added 9,000 jobs in October with state and local governments increasing by 2,000 each and federal employment increasing by 5,000.

Headline wage growth fell back to its subdued trend after an uptick in September, increasing 2.4% year on year in October. Wage growth is unlikely to break out of its low growth trend without increases in labor force participation, which remains near historic lows. While the participation rate remains low, the employment-population ratio has shown moderate but consistent improvement, increasing almost one full percentage point over the past two years, from 59.3% in October 2015 to 60.2% in October 2017.

In general, the data in the September and October jobs reports are muddled by the effects of natural disasters and November will be the first “clean” jobs report in as many months. The paltry employment numbers for September, as well as October’s rebound, are expected to be one-time events and payroll growth will continue at a steady and moderate rate as the economic expansion continues to march on.



About Dodge Data & Analytics:

Dodge Data & Analytics is North America’s leading provider of commercial construction project data, market forecasting & analytics services and workflow integration solutions for the construction industry. Building product manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, and service providers leverage Dodge to identify and pursue unseen growth opportunities that help them grow their business. On a local, regional or national level, Dodge empowers its customers to better understand their markets, uncover key relationships, seize growth opportunities, and pursue specific sales opportunities with success. The company’s construction project information is the most comprehensive and verified in the industry.

As of April 15th, Dodge Data & Analytics and The Blue Book -- the largest, most active network in the U.S. commercial construction industry -- combined their businesses in a merger. The Blue Book Network delivers three unparalleled databases of companies, projects, and people.

Dodge and The Blue Book offer 10+ billion data elements and 14+ million project and document searches. Together, they provide a unified approach for new business generation, business planning, research, and marketing services users can leverage to find the best partners to complete projects and to engage with customers and prospects to promote projects, products, and services. To learn more, visit: and

Media Contact

Eric Becker | 104 West Partners |