Where The October Jobs Were: Record Waiters And Bartenders

Following last month's sharply upward revised jobs report, whose initial negative print of -33,000 was since revised to a positive 18K, there was a sharp jump in October jobs, which while failing to meet consensus estimate of a +310K print, was still a solid +261K. But which jobs contributed the most? The answer, not surprising, is that the single biggest contributor was the same job category which was devastated in the previous month.

Readers will recall that last month we pointed out that workers in "food service and drinking places" aka waiters and bartenders, suffered their biggest drop on record, plunging by a whopping 111K. Well, one month later it's payback time, and according to the BLS, 88,500 waiters and bartenders found jobs in October, as the "plowhorse" sector of the so-called recovery found its spark. As shown in the chart below the monthly increase in waiters and bartenders was a record.

Putting this number in context, the record increase in "food service and drinking places" jobs was a whopping third (34%) of all the 261K jobs added in October.

There was another amusing observation. As we said last month, "we find it delightfully ironic that in the one month in which waiters/bartenders lost the most jobs on record is when average wages (allegedly) soared" and added that "the September drop will be revised and move higher next month. After all, many people fleeing Florida and Houston had to stay in hotels and motels, for example.  And certainly eat out more."

One month later,

of course, the other implication is that with tens of thousands of minimum wage jobs coming back, average hourly earnings would tumble, and - lo and behold - that is precisely what happened, with the worst monthly wage print since June 2015, as AHE actually declined by 1 cent in October.

Some other October jobs highlights:

  • Goods Producing jobs: +33K, slightly better than expected, with the last month revised higher from +9K to +18K. Much of this is due to damage repairs from the Hurricanes, which has invigorated the manufacturing sector, which added 24K jobs.
  • Trade, Transportation: +6K, weaker than expected, due to an 8.3K drop in retail trade jobs as Amazon continues to decimate the bricks and mortar sector.
  • Professional Services: +50K, better than expected, and driven largely by an 18.3K jump in temp workers, which traditionally is seen as harbinger of strong labor demand, however in recent years this has become a chornic component of the labor force, as increasingly more employers settle for temp workers instead of full-timers.
  • Education: +7.6K, in line with expectations
  • Healthcare: +21.5K, slightly weaker than expected as only 12K social assistance jobs added
  • Government: +9K. No hurricane impact and in line with expectations.
  • Information: -1K. A surprising, continuing decline (following -3K jobs lost in September), in what has traditionally been one of the best paying job sectors.
  • Leisure/Hospitality: +106K, much higher than expected, and very hurricane impacted. The sole contributor here was the abovementioned surge in waiters and bartenders.

Below is a breakdown of the monthly changes across the main job categories in September:

And from Bloomberg, here are the industries with the highest and lowest rates of employment growth for the most recent month. Additionally, monthly growth rates are shown for the prior year. The latest month’s figures are highlighted. Wage