The U.S. economy added 638,000 jobs in October, pushing the unemployment rate to 6.9 percent from 7.9 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

The news marks the sixth consecutive month in which the U.S. has added jobs. However, the country as a whole is still down approximately 10 million jobs since February’s pre-pandemic levels.

“The economy is in a hole, and it is slowly beginning to crawl out,” Odeta Kushi, deputy first economist at First American, wrote on Twitter Friday. “Six months of expansion is good news, while the deceleration in the pace of improvement signals a slowdown. We’re still down 10 million jobs since the pandemic started, and the future is dependent on the virus.”

The report noted that notable job gains were seen in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade and construction, as the country has continued to resume economic activity to a greater degree while people have learned to navigate through the pandemic.

“Job growth was much stronger than anticipated in October, with private sector payrolls up by more than 900,000,” Mike Fratantoni, senior vice president and chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in a statement.

“Total employment remains 6.6 percent below the level in February, and indicates just how far we still have to go to reattain full employment,” he added. “Some of the largest job gains this month were in those sectors hardest hit by the pandemic: leisure and hospitality, and retail trade. However these sectors still have employment that is 4 million below February’s level. Government employment declined due to the conclusion of the decennial U.S. Census count, and the continued job losses occurring in local education jobs.”

In September, when the unemployment rate was still at 7.9 percent, it had been the highest-ever jobless rate going into a presidential election. As the nation still awaits final election results, many hold baited breath wondering how the outcome may impact the economy.

Meanwhile, the real estate industry gained 10,000 jobs month over month. However, total jobs numbers in real estate, plus finance and insurance, are still down by 129,000 from February.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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