October Jobs Report Details

The unexpectedly strong employment report for October – 204,000 jobs created – spotlighted various positive employment trends for the economy.

The unexpectedly strong employment report for October – 204,000 jobs created — spotlighted various positive employment trends for the economy. For instance, hiring was strong in a fairly wide range of business sectors, such leisure and hospitality (up 53,000), professional and business services (up 21,000) and manufacturing (up 19,000).

Retailers hired a substantial number of seasonal workers in October, which is when hiring for the holiday gets under way, peaking the next month. All together, 159,500 retail positions were created in October, the highest number for the month since 1999, according to the BLS. Could be that retailers are optimistic about their prospects for the holiday season.

The official unemployment rate edged up to 7.3 percent, mainly as a result of federal government workers being temporarily furloughed in October. Though up from 7.2 percent in September, the rate is still down from October 2012, when it was 7.9 percent. The BLS’s U6 measurement of unemployment, which includes people who have given up looking for work, as well as part-time workers who want to be full time, came in at 13.8 percent in October, down from 14.5 percent a year earlier.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 4.1 million in October, according to the BLS. They accounted for 36.1 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed has declined by 954,000 over the last 12 months.

The BLS also revised its estimates for job creation in August and September. In August, the total was 238,000 jobs, revised up from 193,000, and in September the total was 163,000, revised up from 148,000. The average number of jobs created during each of the last 12 months is 190,000.

The strong October report might also help persuade the Federal Reserve to taper its bond-buying program, possibly as soon as the end of the year. The central bank has said that certain macroeconomic benchmarks are important in making that decision, such as if the year-over-year change in total employment is still around 2.2 million in November. That decision might happen: compared with a year ago, total employment was up nearly 2.33 million in October.

Wall Street ended the week on a positive note on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 167.8 points, or 1.08 percent. The S&P 500 was up 1.34 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 1.37 percent.