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You are Here: Home > Blog > Unemployment Rate – October 2017

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Unemployment Rate – October 2017

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

The economy rebounded in October as employees returned to work after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point in 17 years.

According to the most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the private sector gained 252,000 nonfarm jobs in October. Local, state and federal governments gained 9,000 jobs, resulting in 261,000 total net job gains. Although job gains were impressive, analysts had expected a total of around 310,000.

After BLS revisions, September showed job gains of 18,000. The BLS had initially reported 33,000 job loses for the month, due to the hurricanes.

Many of October’s job gains, 89,000, were in food services and drinking places after the industry lost 98,000 (revised down from 105,000) jobs because of the hurricanes.

Professional and business services (50,000), manufacturing (24,000) and health care (22,000) showed significant job gains in October (job gains shown in parenthesis). Other major industries showed little change.

The unemployment rate in October dropped from 4.2 to 4.1 percent, its lowest level since December 2000 when it was 3.9 percent.

Dropping by a penny to $26.53, the average hourly wage for all private-sector employees showed a monthly loss after showing a 12-cent gain in September. For private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, the average hourly wage also dropped by a penny to $22.22.

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Unemployment Rate 2016-2017
Unemployment Rate Chart 2016 to 2017

The unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent in October, mostly because more unemployed workers stopped looking for jobs. In order for the BLS to count workers as unemployed, they must have been actively seeking jobs in the four weeks preceding the count. The total number of workers that the BLS counted as unemployed in October was 6.5 million, down from 6.8 million in September.

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 4.8 million, down from 5.1 million in September.

The average workweek in October for all part-timers and full-timers in the private sector was 34.4 hours, unchanged from the month before.

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 — at least not for them.

The number of marginally-attached workers in October was 1.5 million, down from 1.6 million in September. Among the marginally-attached, 524,000 were so-called “discouraged workers” because they gave up looking for work due to their shared perception that there are no jobs. That was up from 421,000 in 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 1.6 million in October. These workers accounted for 24.8 percent of the unemployed. Standard state unemployment benefits last only up to 26 weeks without extensions.

If you are a recent victim of a job loss or a reduction in work hours, 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 2017 unemployment rate and job numbers, see the “Employment Situation Summary” by the BLS. The BLS plans to report the November 2017 unemployment rate and job numbers on Friday, December 8. To receive notification like the above automatically, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog for free.

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Except where otherwise noted, 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.

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