The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its October jobs report today, which showed that the national economy added 171,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate inching up to 7.9 percent due to a larger than usual number of individuals entering or re-entering the workforce. The BLS also revised up the employment figures for August and September—50,000 additional jobs for August above last month's revision (from 142,000 to 192,000 added) and 34,000 additional jobs for September above last month's preliminary figure (from 114,000 to 148,000).
Except for the rise in the unemployment rate from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent, the news today was mostly good. As mentioned above, more individuals than usual entered or re-entered the workforce, 578,000 individuals last month, which is a good sign for the economy as this suggests that people are seeing more opportunity for employment. In addition, the number of people working part-time for economic reasons fell, as did the number of discouraged workers (those who have stopped looking for work). All of these factors, while good in the long run, contribute to a higher unemployment rate despite the significant number of jobs added.
Among the specific industry sectors, professional services, healthcare, retail, leisure and hospitality, and construction all added jobs last month. The mining sector lost jobs. And employment in the rest of the economy—including manufacturing, financial services, government, information, and more—treaded water. Construction added 17,000 jobs. Architectural and engineering services (classified as part of the professional services sector) added 1,500 jobs.
For the architecture and engineering sector, the 1,329,500 people employed in October is 30,200 more than a year ago (for an annual increase of 2.3 percent). For construction, the 5,539,000 employed is 20,000 more than a year ago (for an annual increase of 0.4 percent). Increases are always good, but these statistics do not lend themselves to the picture of a market in recovery, or at least a robust recovery. (You can see more of the BLS's data in the chart below.)
This is basically in accord with ADP’s employment report, released yesterday, but with the BLS reporting more overall jobs added, but fewer jobs added in construction.
Note: for this story, I only used the BLS’s seasonally adjusted numbers. In the past, I have also tried using the bureau’s seasonally unadjusted statistics in an attempt to decipher additional industry trends, but I find that this can be confusing—both for readers and for myself. The numbers reported by the media and in the BLS’s press releases are all the seasonally adjusted figures, and mixing and matching can sometimes make it difficult—and certainly makes it confusing—when attempting to draw a proper conclusion.