Employers added a surprisingly strong 128,000 jobs in October, shrugging off a 40-day strike at General Motors that shrank payrolls for the month.
The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6% as more people looked for jobs, the Labor Department announced Friday.
The government also increased its initial estimates for hiring in August and September, showing that the economy has added an average of 176,000 jobs in each of past three months. That's more than enough to keep up with the growth of the labor force while pulling in some discouraged workers off the sidelines.
"[T]he worst might be over for the economic slowdown," Sal Guatieri, senior economist at Capital Markets Economic, said in a note.
Average hourly earnings last month rose 3% from a year ago, a decent clip, though down from their pace earlier this year.
"Certainly we'd hope to see wage growth pick up more because of how tight the labor market is. It's been a huge mystery for the duration of the expansion about why wage growth has been so slow," said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor.
Taken together, the figures show that the job market, while slowing, is more resilient than many had feared. While sectors hit by the U.S.-China trade war, including manufacturing and transportation, have been flat this year, the service economy continues adding jobs at a steady pace. Sectors including leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care grew strongly in October.
"For now, the consumer's strong enough to keep the economy going," said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM.
Stocks surged on the news, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both hitting intraday highs and the Dow rising nearly 1% to 27,292.