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Economy in Brief

U.S. Payrolls Rise Modestly; Jobless Rate Steady
by Tom Moeller   November 05, 2010

The U.S. labor market is firmer, but still fragile. Payrolls rose a modest 151,000 last month after a 41,000 September decline. Encouraging news came from private sector payrolls. They rose 159,000 after gains of 107,000 and 143,000 during the prior two months. Fragility, however, remains the operative word since total employment rose just 0.6% y/y, accompanied by a still-high unemployment rate of 9.6%.

Amongst sectors, it's been private service-sector payrolls which have improved the most. They rose 154,000 last month and they're up a still- modest 1.1% since December  following the 3.4% 2009 decline. Payrolls in the professional & business service industries industries were the strongest with a 1.9% YTD gain followed by education (1.8%), leisure & hospitality (1.4%), retail trade (0.9%) and transportation (0.7%). To the downside so far this year were the information (-1.2%) and financial services (-1.1%) industries. All of the gains were outpaced by a 13.8% increase in temporary help employment. In the government sector, payrolls have fallen 1.1% this year led by a 1.7% decline in local area employment. Elsewhere, factory sector payrolls have improved 1.2% since December but construction jobs fell 1.2%. In the private sector, 55.0% of industries raised employment.

Overall, individuals worked a slightly longer 34.3 hour workweek, the highest in nearly two years. This was improved from last year's monthly low of 33.7 hours. The 40.3 hour factory sector workweek was the longest compared to a 33.3 hour week in the private service sector.

The payroll employment gains were accompanied by a 330,000 (+0.6% y/y) decline in household sector employment. That left the unemployment stable at 9.6% as the labor force declined by 254,000 and it's been unchanged y/y. The labor force participation rate fell to 64.5%, the lowest since 1985. More than six million individuals are currently not in the labor force but want a job. The average duration of unemployment was near its high at 33.9 weeks. Labor-market underutilization was further evident in the 17.0% of workers who were either unemployed, "marginally" attached or involuntarily employed part-time.

The figures referenced above are available in Haver's USECON database. Additional detail can be found in the LABOR and in the EMPL databases.

Economic Recovery Is Proceeding At A Slow Pace from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and it can be found here.

Employment: 000s Oct. Sept. Aug. Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Payroll Employment 151 -41 -1 0.6% -4.3% -0.6% 1.1%
     Previous -- -95 -57 -- -- -- --
  Manufacturing -7 -2 -26 0.8% -11.3% -3.4% -2.0%
  Construction 5 -8 34 -2.1% -15.7% -6.1% -0.8%
  Private Service Producing 154 111 126 1.2% -3.4% -0.2% 1.7%
  Government -8 -148 -144 -1.2% 0.2% 1.3% 1.1%
Average Weekly Hours 34.3 34.2 34.3 33.7
(Oct. '09)
33.1 33.6 33.8
Average Hourly Earnings 0.4% 0.1% 0.3% 2.1% 3.0% 3.8% 4.0%
Unemployment Rate (%) 9.6 9.6 9.6 10.1 (Oct.'09) 9.3 5.8 4.6
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