Unemployment rate remains steady
According to an announcement by the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics William W. Beach, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 128,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.6 percent. But notable employment gains occurred in food services and drinking places, social assistance and financial activities.
Within manufacturing, employment declined in motor vehicles and parts due to strike activity. Federal government employment was down, reflecting a drop in the number of temporary jobs for the 2020 Census.
Incorporating revisions for August and September, which increased nonfarm payroll employment by 95,000, monthly job gains have averaged 176,000 over the past 3 months. Job growth has averaged 167,000 per month thus far in 2019, compared with an average gain of 223,000 per month in 2018.
Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 48,000 over the month. Monthly job growth in the industry has averaged 38,000 over the past 3 months, compared with an average monthly gain of 16,000 in the first 7 months of 2019.
Social assistance added 20,000 jobs in October, with most of the gain occurring in individual and family services — approximately 17,000. Over the past 12 months, employment in social assistance has increased by 139,000.
In October, financial activities added 16,000 jobs. Within the industry, employment increased in real estate and rental and leasing — 10,000 jobs added — and in credit intermediation and related activities — 6,000 added.
Over the month, employment continued to trend up in professional and business services — with 22,000 jobs added — and in health care — 15,000 jobs added.
Manufacturing employment declined by 36,000 in October. Employment in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing decreased by 42,000, reflecting strike activity.
Within government, federal employment declined in October — with 17,000 less jobs — as 20,000 temporary workers who had been preparing for the 2020 Census completed their work.
In October, employment changed little in other major industries — including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing and information.
Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 6 cents in October to $28.18, following little change — a 1 cent increase — in September. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 3.0 percent; the over-the-year percent change has been 3.0 percent or above for 15 consecutive months. From September 2018 to September 2019, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 1.7 percent (on a seasonally adjusted basis).
Turning to measures from the survey of households, the unemployment rate, at 3.6 percent, was little changed in October. The number of unemployed people, 5.9 million, also changed little over the month.
Among the unemployed, the number of people searching for work for 27 weeks or more was essentially unchanged at 1.3 million in October. These long-term unemployed accounted for 21.5 percent of the unemployed.
The labor force participation rate, at 63.3 percent, was about unchanged in October. The employment-population ratio remained at 61.0 percent over the month. Both measures were up by 0.4 percentage point over the year.
In October, 4.4 million people were working part time for economic reasons — also referred to as involuntary part-time workers — and little changed from the previous month.
Among those neither working nor looking for work in October, 1.2 million were considered marginally attached to the labor force, down by 262,000 from a year earlier. People who are marginally attached to the labor force had not looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were available for work and had looked for a job within the last 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed no jobs were available for them, numbered 341,000 in October, down by 165,000 from a year earlier.