US adds 171,000 jobs in Oct, but jobless rate ticks up to 7.9%

02 November 2012 14:26  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US added 171,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department said on Friday, but the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% from September’s 7.8% as more people entered the workforce but were unable to find employment.

In its monthly report on employment, the department said that job gains last month were chiefly in professional and business services, health care and retail trades.

There were also improvements in hiring in the hospitality industry and in construction, but workforces in manufacturing, transportation, financial services and government remained largely unchanged from September.

The department said the nation’s mining industry lost some 9,000 jobs in October, bringing total job losses in this sector to 17,000 since May.

The October jobs gain of 171,000 marks an improvement from the upwardly revised September figure of 148,000, and it is ahead of the 112,000 new hires recorded for October 2011.

The US economy needs to add 150,000 jobs each month just to accommodate new workers entering the employment market. 

While the October jobs gain is above that pace-keeping 150,000 level, it is still well short of the 300,000 to 350,000 new hires needed every month for multiple quarters to make significant reductions among the nation's 12.3m unemployed workers and the other 10.7m people who are working part-time jobs or have given up looking for employment.

Despite the additional 171,000 new jobs, the nation’s unemployment rate edged up to 7.9% for October. That small percentage gain in the jobless figures was attributed to an almost equal number, 170,000, of workers who lost their jobs last month and as new job-seekers entered the market. The US civilian labour pool numbers 155.6m.

There was special significance and interest attached to Friday’s employment report because it is the last monthly jobs analysis before next Tuesday’s (6 November) US national elections. 

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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