Job growth in October was broad-based, with businesses across the economy hiring at a rapid clip. The health care sector added 53,000 workers. Even manufacturing, which has been bracing for a downturn, added 32,000 jobs, though other indicators suggest that rate may not continue for much longer, as consumer spending continues to shift away from goods and a strong dollar makes U.S. exports more expensive to buyers in other countries.
There have been other recent signs that the labor market remains tighter than policymakers would like. Job openings, after falling significantly in August, rose again in September to 10.7 million. That increase meant there were roughly 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker. The number of people who quit their jobs — typically, a sign that workers are confident that they will find better ones — ticked down to 4.1 million but remained high. Layoffs have stayed low.
For many businesses, an unrelenting shortage of job applicants has made hiring incredibly difficult.
Alex Anderman, the vice president of operations at FOMO Eats, which owns six fast-casual restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas, said finding workers had been so challenging that he started walking into competitors’ restaurants last year and offering workers there a raise to come work for him.
A year later, he is still doing it.
“The power is still on the employee side,” said Mr. Anderman, who added that he had raised both pay and prices. He is still so short-staffed that when employees call in sick, his managers close stores early or call in temporary workers to fill in. Those workers, he said, are paid much higher wages.
To cope, his business has turned to automation, investing in equipment that cooks burgers with minimal human oversight. “It cooks it perfectly every time, and it shows up to work,” he said. “If people don’t want these jobs, which it seems like they don’t, then getting a robot to do it is beautiful.”
There are, of course, plenty of signs of a slowdown, particularly in sectors that are most sensitive to higher interest rates. Construction, which has been faltering amid skyrocketing mortgage rates, added only about 1,000 jobs in October.