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Economy in Brief

U.S. Job Market Continues To Improve
by Tom Moeller  November 2, 2012

Nonfarm payrolls grew 171,000 during October following revised gains of 148,000 and 192,000 during the prior two months, earlier reported as 114,000 and 142,000, respectively. A 121,000 increase was expected. Moderate job gains continued in most industries although government payrolls declined. The unemployment rate ticked up to an expected 7.9%. Employment was strong for a second month and jumped 410,000 as measured in the household survey.

The 171,000 advance in nonfarm payrolls last month held the y/y increase steady at 1.5% but the three-month average increase of 170,000 was nearly the strongest since March. Improvement occurred in 60.7% of industries m/m and 60.0% saw gains over the last three months. Growth in private service sector payrolls again led job market improvement with a 163,000 increase. Professional & business services jobs led the gain with a 51,000 (3.0% y/y) rise. That was followed by a 36,400 (1.0% y/y) increase in retail trade, a 32,500 (2.0% y/y) rise in health care & social services and a 28,000 (2.5% y/y) advance in leisure & hospitality employment. Government sector jobs fell 13,000 (-0.1% y/y), the first decline in four months. It reflected a 6,000 (-1.4% y/y) drop in federal government and a 7,000 (+0.4% y/y) falloff in state government jobs.

The length of the average workweek held steady at 34.4 hours for the fourth consecutive month. That was reduced from the February high of 34.6 hours.     

Average hourly earnings slipped 0.1% (+1.1% y/y), down for the second month in the last three.

From the household employment survey, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% last month. That still was the lowest since January 2009. Employment advanced 410,000 (2.2% y/y), roughly half the strong September rise. The labor force rose 578,000 (1.0% y/y) as the labor force participation rate increased to 63.8%, its highest in three months. The unemployment rate for those 25 years and older was 6.6% while for those 16 to 24 years it was 16.0%. For teenagers the jobless rate was 23.7%.

More schooling continues to pay off. By educational attainment the jobless rate was 12.2% for those with less than a high school diploma. For a high school graduate but no college it was 8.4% and for those with some college it was 6.9%. For college graduates the jobless rate was 3.8%, it lowest since December 2008. 

The figures referenced above are available in Haver's USECON database. Additional detail can be found in the LABOR and in the EMPL databases. The expectation figures are from Action Economics and are in the AS1REPNA database.

Employment: (M/M Chg., 000s) Oct Sep Aug Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Payroll Employment 171 148 192 1.5% 1.2% -0.7% -4.4%
 Previous -- 114 142 -- -- -- --
 Manufacturing 13 -14 -13 1.6 1.8 -2.7 -11.6
 Construction 17 2 3 0.4 -0.3 -8.2 -16.0
 Private Service Producing 163 141 148 1.9 1.8 -0.1 -3.5
 Government -13 20 58 -0.1 -1.7 -0.3 0.2
Average Weekly Hours - Private Sector 34.4 34.4 34.4 34.4
(Oct'11)
34.4 34.1 33.9
Average Private Sector Hourly Earnings (%) -0.1 0.3 -0.1 1.1 2.0 2.4 3.0
Unemployment Rate (%) 7.9 7.8 8.1 8.9
(Oct'11)
9.0 9.6 9.3
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