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October 2012 Jobs Report Brings Good News, Sort Of

by Alex Gauthier, published
source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The hotly awaited October 2012 jobs report, released by the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, announced this morning,

"Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent... Employment rose in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade."

The addition of 171,0000 jobs in October is higher than the year's average, 157,000 jobs a month since January 2012. When compared to October 2011, job growth is up by 59,000 jobs from 112,000 jobs last year.

The strongest sector of job creation was in professional and business services with 51,000 jobs added since last month. Retail trade placed second with 36,400 jobs added. This is to be expected as many retailers have started hiring in preparation for the holiday season. The leisure and hospitality industry added 28,000 jobs last month, the third highest sector of growth. Construction jobs were up 17,000 since last month, suggesting that the housing market is improving, albeit slowly.

Government and mining/logging were the only general sectors to lose jobs, as state government and oil/gas extraction sub categories were hit the hardest. Aside from hiring, the October 2012 jobs report also analyzed changes in the unemployment rate by race/gender and the number of discouraged workers.

The unemployment rate in September was 7.8 percent and is now up to 7.9 percent, possibly due to a swathe of previously discouraged workers now returning to look for work.

"Among the marginally attached, there were 813,000 discouraged workers in October, a decline of 154,000 from a year earlier (These data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities."

When broken down by race, the unemployment rate increased for blacks almost 1% up to 14.3 percent. From previous months, the unemployment rate for whites, Latinos, and Asians has remained unchanged: 7%, 10%, and 4.9% respectively. These figures show a general downward trend from October 2011.

This could be a signal that Americans are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel in terms of job opportunities. However, it remains to be seen if job creation will continue to grow after the holiday season, when many seasonal workers turn elsewhere for income opportunities.

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