The October unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in over six years. Job growth in the month again topped 200,000.
According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector netted 209,000 nonfarm job gains and local, state, and federal governments netted 5,000.
The total net job gain in October was 214,000. Analysts had estimated that the total would be 230,000. The October unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, down from 5.9 percent in September and the lowest rate since July 2008.
The private sector has now gained nonfarm jobs for 56 consecutive months since the Great Recession, the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in U.S. history. The unemployment rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points from the recessionary high of 10 percent in October 2009.
The BLS revised job gains for August and September, showing that the economy netted 31,000 more jobs over the two months than it had previously estimated. The economy netted an average of 222,000 jobs per month in the twelve months prior to October.
At 52,000, the leisure and hospitality industry added the most jobs in October. Within that industry, food services and drinking places netted 42,000. Restaurants and bars gained an average of 26,000 jobs per month in the prior 12 months.
Job growth continued in the professional and business services industry, at 37,000. Temporary help services (“temp workers”) gained 15,000 of those, while computer systems design and related services gained 7,000. The industry as a whole netted an average of 56,000 jobs per month in the twelve months prior to October.
The retail trade industry gained 27,000 jobs in October, with general merchandise stores gaining 12,000 and automobile dealers gaining 4,000 of those. Job growth in retail trade has increased by 249,000 over the past year.
Health care again added jobs: 23,000 this time. The industry added an average of 21,000 jobs per month in the twelve months prior to October. Much of the industry’s steady job growth over the past few years, even throughout the Great Recession, is attributable to the increasing medical demands of aging baby boomers and the ever-growing obesity epidemic, and to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as well.
Manufacturing, an industry that economists consider to be a gauge of labor market health, netted 15,000 jobs. Construction, also a measure of labor-market health, netted 12,000. Employment in construction has continued to trend upward over the past year.
Among the major work groups tracked by the BLS, teenagers again suffered the highest unemployment rate (18.6 percent) followed by blacks (10.9), Hispanics (6.8), adult women (5.4), adult men (5.1), whites (4.8) and Asians (5.0, not seasonally adjusted). Whites experienced a 0.3 percent rate drop from September. All other groups experienced slighter drops, except for Asians who saw a rise of 0.7 percent.
Workers who are 25 years of age or older and who have earned four-year college degrees or higher experienced a 3.1 percent unemployment rate in October, up from 2.9 in September. Those in the same age group and who don’t have high school diplomas suffered a much-higher 7.9 percent rate, but at least that was down from 9.1 in August and 8.4 in September.
The unemployment rate ticked down in October to 5.8 percent, despite that more workers entered the job market. (That’s typical as the holiday season approaches.) The unemployment rate has declined from 6.7 percent in March, the highest rate so far this year. A year ago, it was 7.2 percent.
The BLS counted 9.0 million workers as unemployed in October, down from 9.3 million in September. The number of unemployed workers has declined by 1.2 million since the beginning of this year.
The count of unemployed workers does not include those who are involuntarily working only part time and with fewer benefits, if any, such as no health insurance, because they can’t find full-time jobs or employers cut their work hours. The number of involuntarily part-timers in October was 7.0 million, down from 7.1 million in September.
The average workweek for both part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.6 hours in October, and their average hourly earnings rose by 3 cents to $24.57. Average earnings rose by 4 cents to $20.70/hour for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees. Average hourly earnings have risen by 2.0 percent in a year for all private-sector employees.
The unemployment rate also does not include “marginally-attached” unemployed workers. The BLS does not count them in the official rate because they stopped looking for work in the four weeks preceding the count, for reasons such as school attendance, family matters or their collective perception that there simply are no jobs.
The number of marginally-attached workers in October was 2.2 million, the same as it was in September. Among the marginally-attached, 770,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs — at least not for them. The number of discouraged workers was up from the 698,000 that the BLS initially reported for September. (The BLS does not seasonally adjust any of the figures in this paragraph.)
The number of long-term unemployed workers, those who have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer, was 2.7 million, down from 3.0 million in September. These workers accounted for 32 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed workers has declined by 1.1 million over the past year. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.
If you are a recent victim of job loss or a reduction in work hours resulting from the high unemployment rate, then you might be eligible to collect full or partial unemployment benefits from the state unemployment office. You might also be eligible to continue your employer-provided group health insurance coverage through COBRA.
For more details about the October 2014 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the November 2014 unemployment rate and job numbers on December 5. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.
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Certain figures in this unemployment rate report were rounded and/or seasonally adjusted by the BLS, and are subject to revision by same (based on additional data that was not initially available). The unemployment rate chart pictured above was provided by the BLS.