The US economic engine delivered another jolt of good news as Republicans battle to maintain control of Congress in next week's midterm elections, churning out jobs and giving workers a fat pay bump, government data showed Friday.
The economy brushed past Hurricane Michael, adding 250,000 net new positions in October and handily overshooting forecasts, while salaries rose at the fastest pace in nearly a decade, the Labor Department said.
The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, a 48-year low, as more workers entered the labor force.
The robust economy has been a comfort to Republicans and President Donald Trump, who face a potential backlash from voters in Tuesday's midterms. Polls show Democrats stand a good chance of retaking the House of Representatives, providing a greater check on Trump's agenda. "These are incredible numbers," Trump said of the employment data on Twitter. "Keep it going. Vote Republican."
The result was something of a surprise as some economists had expected the hurricane that made landfall on the Florida panhandle in the middle of the employment survey week to depress reports of hiring and worker pay.
Instead, officials said the storm, which disrupted business and life for millions, produced "no discernable effect" on the estimates.
October also marked the second month in a row that a hurricane had landed in the middle of the survey -- meaning the figures could be subject to extra volatility, Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.
Other data suggest hiring has indeed gathered pace, "but we won't know if that's really happening until we have another couple months' data," he said in a client note. The jobs data showed companies kept right on hiring in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing, despite continued reports of a shortage of skilled labor.