After an unrelenting three month-stretch of 9.1 per cent unemployment, the United States economy finally returned to the psychologically-important 9 per cent mark in October, a month that saw the labour markets add another 80,000 jobs.
In its monthly jobs report, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) noted that employment in the private sector rose, with modest job growth continuing in professional and businesses services, leisure and hospitality, health care, and mining. Government employment, still reeling under pressure from budget cuts at the state and federal levels, continued to trend down.
Yet the BLS also said that the previous two months' record was better than initial estimates had suggested, and it revised upwards the jobs figures for August and September. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from 57,000 to 104,000, and the change for September was revised from 103,000 to 158,000.
The marginal drop in unemployment figures came even as President Barack Obama issued a statement criticising the Republican opposition for blocking the White House's Infrastructure Bill, aimed at boosting job creation in this sector.
In a statement on Thursday the President said, “For the third time in recent weeks, every single Republican in the United Sates Senate has chosen to obstruct a jobs bill that independent economists said would boost our economy and put Americans back to work. At a time when more than a million construction workers are looking for a job, they voted ‘no' to putting them back to work doing the work America needs done — rebuilding our roads, bridges, airports and transit systems. That makes no sense.”
The remarks also underscored the dire state of government finances and the continuing adverse impact that it has had on government jobs. According to the BLS, the government shed 24,000 in October, with most of the decline in the non-educational component of state government. It added that employment in both state government and local government had been trending down since the second half of 2008.
In the private sector, however, employment in professional and business services rose by 32,000 jobs in October, in leisure and hospitality jobs edged up by 22,000, in health care employment expanded by 12,000 jobs and in mining it increased by 6,000. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 5 cents, or 0.2 per cent, the BLS noted, to $23.19.