U.S. unemployment rate dips to 4.1%, 261,000 new jobs added to payrolls

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 237 views 

The nation’s jobless rate in October was 4.1%, down from 4.2% in September as 261,000 new positions were added to payrolls, largely offsetting last month’s decline that largely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday (Nov. 3).

Job gains occurred in professional and business services, manufacturing and health care, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 281,000 to 6.5 million. Since January, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.7 percentage point, and the number of unemployed persons has decreased by 1.1 million.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (3.6%) and Whites (3.5%) declined in October. The jobless rates for adult men (3.8%), teenagers (13.7%), Blacks (7.5%), Asians (3.1%), and Hispanics (4.8%) showed slight change.

“The job market remains healthy and hiring bounced back with one of the best performances we’ve seen all year,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “Although the service providing sector was hard hit last month due to the weather, we saw significant growth in professional services, especially in the higher paid professional technical jobs. Additionally, small businesses rebounded well from the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, posting very strong gains.”

Two weeks ago, Arkansas’ unemployment rate held steady at 3.5% for the second straight month as the state’s civilian labor pool closed in on levels not seen in nearly a decade. Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted jobless rate for September remained at 3.5%, just off the record low of 3.4% touched in May, June and July. Arkansas’ civilian labor force added 1,435 workers, a result of 938 additional employed and 497 more unemployed Arkansans. The state’s brimming labor pool now has a total of 1,379,592 workers, up from 1,378,157 in August and a strong 38,100 from 1,341,157 laborers a year ago.

Nationwide, the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.4 percentage point to 62.7% in October but has shown little movement on net over the past 12 months. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons declined by 369,000 to 4.8 million in October. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs. Over the past 12 months, the number of involuntary part-time workers has decreased by 1.1 million.

The “U-6” jobless rate, which includes those “marginally” attached to the labor force and person employed part-time but seek full-time work, was 7.9%, down from 8.3% in September and well below 8.6% in August. Some economists point to the U-6 number as a better measure of the economy with respect to jobs.

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 261,000 in October, after changing little in September. Employment in food services and drinking places increased sharply over the month, mostly offsetting a decline in September that largely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

Employment in food services and drinking places rose sharply in October by 89,000, following a decrease of 98,000 in September when many workers were off payrolls due to the hurricanes. Professional and business services added 50,000 jobs in October, about in line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months.

Manufacturing employment continued to rise, adding 24,000 positions in October, with job gains in computer and electronic products and chemicals. Employment in fabricated metals also continued to trend up and manufacturing has added 156,000 jobs since a recent employment low in November 2016.

Health care added 22,000 jobs in October. Employment in ambulatory health care services continued to trend up over the month, adding 16,000 workers. Health care has added an average of 24,000 jobs per month thus far in 2017, compared with an average gain of 32,000 per month in 2016.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, changed little in October.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $26.53, were little changed in October after rising by 12 cents in September. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased by 63 cents, or 2.4%. In October, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees, at $22.22, were little changed.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised up from +169,000 to +208,000, and the change for September was revised up from -33,000 to +18,000. With these revisions, employment was 90,000 higher than previously reported.