WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs in October, federal economists reported Friday. The unemployment rate stayed at 3.7 percent.

The latest job market snapshot from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the last before the midterm elections, and it arrived three weeks after Hurricane Michael pummeled the Florida panhandle and Georgia, knocking some people temporarily out of work.

Michael’s destruction followed Hurricane Florence, which devastated homes and roads in the Carolinas with flooding.

Average hourly earnings rose by 3.1 percent over the year that ended in October, the first time in nearly a decade that annual wage growth broke 3 percent.

The country now has 7.1 million openings, a record high, the Labor Department announced Tuesday.

Companies are under pressure to offer higher paychecks at a time when there are more jobs vacant than applicants to fill them, said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, a jobs site.

“Average wages are finally starting to pick up, especially for some lower-skilled positions,” he said. “Maintenance workers, bank tellers, cashiers, cooks – employers are running out of workers for many of these roles.”

The country’s jobless rate hit a near half-century low in September. The president has embraced this data point. “Just out: 3.7% Unemployment is the lowest number since 1969!” Trump tweeted.

Some analysts have tied rising pay to legislative moves. Eighteen states have increased their minimum wages this year.

Speaking Thursday at The Washington Post, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he stands against that kind of policy at a national level.

“My view is a federal minimum wage is a terrible idea. A terrible idea,” he said, adding that kind of law would hurt small businesses.

Job growth in the U.S. slowed considerably in September, thanks largely to Hurricane Florence’s devastating run through the Carolinas.

About 313,000 people did not clock in at work in September because of the rough weather, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists say tens of thousands of others likely missed paychecks in October, due to the damage from Hurricane Michael.

Service and construction workers are most likely to lose shifts during and after major storms. Pounding rain shutters stores, wrecks roads and delays shipments of building materials.

Business falters amid severe weather, according to a Federal Reserve study. It can take months for economic activity to pick back up.

“You can’t work on a jobs site if it’s underwater,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union in Virginia.

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