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Economy in Brief

October U.S. Payrolls Soft
by Tom Moeller November 4, 2005

Non-farm payrolls rose 56,000 last month following a revised 8,000 worker decline in September, initially reported at down 35,000. In addition, the August rise in payrolls was revised lower to 148,000 from 211,000 reported earlier. Consensus expectations had been for a larger 122,000 increase in October.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the weaker-than-expected October number was due to softness in the labor market outside of hurricane-affected regions.

Construction employment rose 33,000 (3.8% y/y), about twice the average gain during the prior four months. October's strength at least partly reflected rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina.

Factory sector payrolls increased 12,000 following a little revised 28,000 worker decline in September. Transportation equipment jobs increased 22,000, largely due to the return of 18,000 striking workers in the aerospace industry.

Payrolls in private service producing industries fell the same 3,000 (+1.7% y/y) as during September which was revised from -67,000. Retail jobs fell 5,400 (+0.7% y/y) and the September decline was lessened to 58,000, initially spotted at -88,000. The leisure & hospitality industries shed another 18,000 (+1.6% y/y) after a 63,000 decline in September, revised from -80,000.

Professional & business services jobs rose 12,000 (2.7% y/y) and financial sector jobs rose 22,000 (2.4% y/y).Education & health services jobs increased 11,000 (2.2% y/y).

Average hourly earnings rose 0.5%, more than double expectations. Factory sector earnings rose 0.7% (2.6% y/y) and private service sector earnings jumped 0.9% (3.5% y/y).

From the household survey, the unemployment rate fell to 5.0% versus expected stability at 5.1%. Employment jumped 214,000 (2.0% y/y) and the labor force fell 14,000 (+1.5% y/y).

Employment Oct Sept Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Payroll Employment 56,000 -8,000 1.4% 1.1% -0.3% -1.1%
  Manufacturing 12,000 -28,000 -0.7% -1.2% -4.9% -7.2%
Average Weekly Hours 33.8 33.8 33.8 33.7 33.7 33.8
Average Hourly Earnings 0.5% 0.1% 2.9% 2.1% 2.7% 2.9%
Unemployment Rate 5.0% 5.1% 5.5% 5.5% 6.0% 5.8%
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