NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — U.S. employers added more than 500,000 jobs in October, a hopeful sign that economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is on course.

There was optimism at a job fair in Flushing, Queens after the Labor Department’s positive news, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Friday.

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Hundreds of job seekers lined up at the recruitment event after a tough 18-month stretch. The line extended outside.

“I’m hopeful that I will find something,” said Giovanni Aranda.

“There’s definitely been more companies hiring,” said Diamond Stevenson.

“The pandemic was crazy. Everything was closed-up, a lot of people lost their jobs, a lot of businesses shut down,” said Anthony Newsome, who lost his security job due to COVID shutdowns.

On Friday, Newsome kept his fingers crossed to be hired at the TSA job fair to fill roles at Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia.

“The interview’s today so, hopefully today they’ll let me know,” he said.

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The latest Labor Department report showed job growth rebounded in October with 531,000 new jobs – the most jobs added since July. It follows two months of lackluster growth caused by the spread of the Delta variant.

“Forecasters said it would take until the end of 2023, to the end of 2023, to get to 4.6 unemployment rate. Today, we’ve reached that rate two year before forecasters thought it was possible,” President Joe Biden said Friday morning.

However, the participation rate stayed the same at 61.6%, showing a large number of people still are not looking for jobs for various reasons from child care issues to retirement.

As a result, experts said workers hold the power. Wages are going up and many companies are providing incentives. The TSA, for example, offered $1,000 signing bonuses at the job fair.

“I think this is a good opportunity for better pay, advancement, good benefits,” said Katherine Garcia, who figures it’s a good time to change careers. “We’re recovering, slowly but surely from COVID. I think it’s definitely looking brighter.”

Job gains are being driven by hiring in leisure and hospitality industries, such as restaurants and manufacturing.

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Consumer confidence, which impacts spending, also rose.

Natalie Duddridge