Economy adds 261,000 jobs in October

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The U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said employment rose sharply in food services and drinking places. Jobs declined in those segments in September, reflecting the effect of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The government revised its reports for August and September upward by a total of 90,000 jobs.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by one cent, to $26.53, after rising by 12 cents in September, the government said. During the past 12 months average hourly earnings have increased by 63 cents, or 2.4 percent.

"Today's report, albeit a little bit mixed, is still a relatively decent number. It still points towards the positive trend that we've seen in payroll growth over the last several months and the last couple of years, actually," Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens Bank, told CNBC. "In general, the economy is moving along, though a little softer than many market participants anticipated."

MarketWatch said the median forecast of economists was for a gain of 325,000 jobs.

In October the number of long-term unemployed (people out of work for 27 weeks or more) was little changed, at 1.6 million, and they accounted for 24.8 percent of the unemployed, the government said.

The government also said the number of people who were employed part time for economic reasons declined by 369,000, to 4.8 million, in October. Those people were working part time because their hours were cut or because they couldn’t find full-time jobs.

The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.4 percentage point, to 62.7 percent in October, but has shown little net movement during the past 12 months, the government said.

The employment-population ratio declined by 0.2 percentage point during the month, to 60.2 percent, after increasing by 0.3 percentage point in September.