The U.S. economy created more jobs than expected in October as unemployment fell to 4.6% and 531,000 new jobs were added to payrolls, the Labor Department announced Friday.
Both numbers outperformed estimates. Dow Jones estimated that unemployment would drop to 4.7% and 450,000 jobs created.
The unemployment rate is the lowest level since March 2020.
The report is welcome news for President Biden, after voters this week said the economy was among the top reasons Republicans did better than expected in state elections.
“This is recovery is faster, stronger and fairer and wider than almost anyone could have predicted,” he said in remarks from the White House Friday.
Mr. Biden linked the strong recovery to the rise in COVID-19 vaccinations among American adults. Earlier Friday, the White House said seven out of 10 adults are now fully vaccinated.
He credited his vaccine mandates for the improved jobs numbers, adding that even more workers can return to the labor market now that young children are eligible for the vaccine.
“Now vaccinated workers are going back to work. Vaccinated shoppers are going back to stores, and with the launch of the vaccine for kids aged 5 through 11 this week, we can make sure more vaccinated children stay in school,” he said.
The report also shows that the economy is starting to roar back to life after a slower-than-expected pace in September in which the number of jobs created fell far below expectations.
In September, payrolls added just 194,000 jobs, compared with the Dow Jones estimate of 500,000.
Leisure and hospitality showed the largest job gains with 164,000 new jobs in October. However, the sector still remains 1.4 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level.
Other sectors posting strong gains included professional and business services with 100,00, manufacturing with 60,000, and transportation and warehousing with 54,000. Construction added 44,000 positions, while healthcare saw a gain of 37,000 and retail added 35,000.
Wages were also on the rise, albeit slightly in October. Salaries were up 0.4% for the month, but increased 4.9% on a year-over-year basis.
The drop in the unemployment rate came as the labor force participation rate remained steady at 61.6%, just 1.7 percentage points below its pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.
Despite the impressive gains, millions of people are still sitting out of the labor market because of COVID-19 fears or responsibilities at home.
However, those numbers are slightly improving. The number of people who said the pandemic kept them from looking for work in October fell to 1.3 million, down from 1.6 million in September.