BUSINESS

October Jobs Report: U.S. Adds 171,000 Jobs As Unemployment Rate At 7.9 Percent

11/02/2012 08:31 am ET | Updated Nov 02, 2012

The U.S. economy added 171,000 jobs in October as the country's unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent, the Labor Department said in a release Friday. August and September's numbers were additionally revised upwards:

More from The Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October and hiring was stronger over the previous two months than first thought. The unemployment rate inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September.

The Labor Department's last look at hiring before Tuesday's election sketched a picture of a job market that is gradually gaining momentum after nearly stalling in the spring.

Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month, up from 67,000 a month from April through June.

Still, President Barack Obama will face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent since Franklin Roosevelt. The rate ticked up because more people without jobs started looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.

Investors were pleased by the news. The Dow Jones industrial average futures were flat before it came out at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and within minutes they were up 30 points.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed to 1.77 percent from 1.72 percent, a sign that investors were moving money out of bonds and into stocks.

Most of the details in the report were positive. The government revised the jobs figures to show that 84,000 more jobs were added than previously estimated.

The gains in October were widespread across most industries. And the percentage of Americans working or looking for work rose for the second straight month.

The economy has added jobs for 25 straight months. There are now 580,000 more jobs than when Obama took office.

But there were also signs of the economy's ongoing weakness. Average hourly pay dipped a penny to $23.58. And the number of unemployed increased 170,000 to 12.3 million.

The department said Hurricane Sandy had no noticeable impact on the report.

The economy has picked up a bit in recent weeks, mostly on the strength of consumers. Americans are more confident and buying more big-ticket items, like cars and appliances. Auto companies reported steady sales gains last month despite losing three days of business to the storm in heavily populated areas of the Northeast.

Yet businesses remain nervous about the economy's future course. Many are concerned that Congress will fail to reach a budget deal before January. If lawmakers can't strike an agreement, sharp tax increases and spending cuts will take effect next year and possibly trigger another recession.

American companies are also nervous about the economic outlook overseas. Europe's financial crisis has pushed much of that region into recession and cut into U.S. exports and corporate profits.

Check back for additional updates.

11/02/2012 3:46 PM EDT

Still, 1.8 Million Americans Have Been Unemployed For 99 Weeks Or Longer

More than 1.8 million Americans had been out of work at least 99 weeks in October, essentially unchanged from October of last year.

--Arthur Delaney

11/02/2012 9:59 AM EDT

White House Releases Largely The Same Statement About The Jobs Report

You can check out the White House's statement on the jobs report here. There is almost no difference between the first and last part of this statement and the same portions of past White House statements on the jobs report.

Here are the White House's statements from October, September, and August for comparison.

--Bonnie Kavoussi

11/02/2012 9:47 AM EDT

Gallup: More Americans Now Have Good Jobs

45.7 percent of the U.S. population had a good job in October, or a full-time job that lasts for at least 30 hours per week, up from 45.1 percent in September, according to a report by Gallup released on Friday morning. This is the highest level that the payroll-to-population rate has reached since Gallup started tracking the metric in 2010.

--Bonnie Kavoussi

11/02/2012 9:32 AM EDT

Mitt Romney: 'The Economy Is At A Virtual Standstill'

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has released an arguably misleading statement on the jobs report:

Today’s increase in the unemployment rate is a sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill. The jobless rate is higher than it was when President Obama took office, and there are still 23 million Americans struggling for work. On Tuesday, America will make a choice between stagnation and prosperity.

Roughly 12 million Americans are unemployed, according to the Labor Department -- not 23 million. The latter number refers to "total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons," according to the Labor Department.

The economy also is not standing still. It grew at an annual rate of 2.0 percent in the third quarter of this year, according to the Commerce Department.

--Bonnie Kavoussi

11/02/2012 9:23 AM EDT

High Frequency Economics: 'The Data Are Signaling Fairly Healthy Job Growth'

From a research note from Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics:

In short, the data are signaling fairly healthy job growth, with much of the strength continuing to show up in revisions instead of the initially reported data. The gains in both payrolls and the household survey employment measure make a downtrend in the unemployment rate quite credible. Today's report will be viewed as good news in the White House.

--Bonnie Kavoussi

11/02/2012 9:20 AM EDT

@ JoshDorner :

Mark Zandi calls the jobs report "good, very good." "When you add it all up it feels really good."

11/02/2012 9:15 AM EDT

Joseph Brusuelas: Strong Jobs Growth May Be Around The Corner

From a research note from Joseph Brusuelas, senior economist at Bloomberg LP:

The real good news is what is not listed in the report. Once the election passes and the fiscal cliff is addressed, hiring from the corporate side to meet basic demand should facilitate a move in the pace of private sector hiring toward 200,000 per month, which is the lower end of the range necessary (200-400K) to bring down the unemployment rate is a positive fashion. While, that may seem somewhat Herculean at the moment, it's there and waiting to happen. After a long five years there is indeed some light at the end of the tunnel, that is not an oncoming train.

--Bonnie Kavoussi

11/02/2012 9:11 AM EDT

@ jimtankersley :

Romney: "Today's report is a sad reminder that the econ is at a virtual standstill." Fact-check: No, it's not.

11/02/2012 9:09 AM EDT

@ ObsoleteDogma :

More housing and less austerity adds up to a real recovery.

11/02/2012 9:08 AM EDT

ING: Congress Could Ruin The Strengthening Economy With The Fiscal Cliff

From a research note from James Knightley, senior economist at ING:

Over the past week we have seen GDP, the ISM report, construction activity, confidence and the employment report point to a strengthening US economy. With the unemployment rate trending downwards and the economy adding jobs this is boosting incomes and the feeling of job security. It is encouraging to see this evaluation backed up by the rise in the Conference Board measure of consumer confidence yesterday, which stands at a four and a half year high. These are all good outcomes and offer hope that the fourth quarter GDP numbers won’t be too bad. However, the uncertainty regarding the fiscal cliff remains a major concern and the longer the post-election arguments drag on, the more damaging it will be for the economy and for jobs.

--Bonnie Kavoussi

Jobs With The Most Work And Least Pay
Suggest a correction
21,830 Comments

CONVERSATIONS