Jobs report shows 171,000 jobs added in October, unemployment at 7.9 percent

Online Staff Report

With the Nov. 6 general election three days away, a critical jobs report released Nov. 2 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed the nationwide unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent in October (7.8 percent in September), although 171,000 jobs were added in the last month.

In a statement, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said: “Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill. The jobless rate is higher than it was when President Obama took office, and there are still 23 million Americans struggling for work. On Tuesday, America will make a choice between stagnation and prosperity.”

Meantime, Robert Gibbs, senior campaign adviser to President Barack Obama, said on CBS This Morning, “We’re not where we all want to end up, but we are making serious important progress moving forward.”

Obama has re-gained the lead in many national polls leading up to the election. Thursday, Nov. 1, he led the CNN/Opinion Research poll (50-48 percent) and the ABC News/Washington Post poll (49-48 percent). A Friday, Nov. 2 Rasmussen Reports poll, which has shown Romney in the lead for a number of weeks, had Obama and Romney tied at 48 percent.

The Nov. 2 BLS report showed employment rose in professional and business services, health care and retail trade.

Both the unemployment rate (7.9 percent) and the number of unemployed people (12.3 million) were essentially unchanged in October, following declines in September.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for blacks increased to 14.3 percent in October, while the rates for adult men (7.3 percent), adult women (7.2 percent), teen-agers (23.7 percent), whites (7.0 percent) and Hispanics (10.0 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 4.9 percent in October, down from 7.3 percent a year earlier.

In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 5 million. These individuals accounted for 40.6 percent of the unemployed.

The civilian labor force rose by 578,000 to 155.6 million in October, and the labor force participation rate edged up to 63.8 percent. Total employment rose by 410,000 over the month. The employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 58.8 percent, following an increase of 0.4 percentage point in September.

The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 269,000 to 8.3 million in October, partially offsetting an increase of 582,000 in September. These individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In October, 2.4 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, little different from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 813,000 discouraged workers in October, a decline of 154,000 from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.6 million people marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October. Employment growth has averaged 157,000 per month thus far in 2012, about the same as the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011. In October, employment rose in professional and business services, health care and retail trade.

Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in October, with gains in services to buildings and dwellings (plus 13,000) and in computer systems design (plus 7,000). Temporary help employment changed little in October and has shown little net change over the past three months. Employment in professional and business services has grown by 1.6 million since its most recent low point in September 2009.

Health care added 31,000 jobs in October. Job gains continued in ambulatory health care services (plus 25,000) and hospitals (plus 6,000). Over the past year, employment in health care has risen by 296,000.

Retail trade added 36,000 jobs in October, with gains in motor vehicles and parts dealers (plus 7,000), and in furniture and home furnishings stores (plus 4,000). Retail trade has added 82,000 jobs over the past three months, with most of the gain occurring in motor vehicles and parts dealers, clothing and accessories stores, and miscellaneous store retailers.

Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up (plus 28,000) over the month. This industry has added 811,000 jobs since a recent low point in January 2010, with most of the gain occurring in food services.

Employment in construction edged up in October. The gain was concentrated in specialty trade contractors (plus 17,000).

Manufacturing employment changed little in October. On net, manufacturing employment has shown little change since April.

Mining lost 9,000 jobs in October, with most of the decline occurring in support activities for mining. Since May of this year, employment in mining has decreased by 17,000.

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

In October, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 34.4 hours for the fourth consecutive month. The manufacturing workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.5 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours.

In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 1 cent to $23.58. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 1.6 percent. In October, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down by 1 cent to $19.79.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from plus 142,000 to plus 192,000, and the change for September was revised from plus 114,000 to plus 148,000.

The Rockford metro area’s unemployment rate dropped to 11 percent in September, down from 11.7 percent in August and 13.6 percent in September 2011, but still remains the highest among the state’s 12 metropolitan areas. The September 2012 not seasonally adjusted Illinois unemployment rate was 8.1 percent and 12.3 percent at its peak in this economic cycle in January 2010.

Illinois statewide numbers for October will be released Friday, Nov. 16, and Illinois metro numbers will be released Wednesday, Nov. 21.

Posted Nov. 2, 2012

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