U.S. Job Market Boomed in October

Jobless rate hits full employment mark

By Roy Maurer Nov 11, 2015
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U.S. employers added 271,000 jobs in October 2015, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent, a level not seen since April 2008, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment data.

“This month’s jobs report was much stronger than expected and came as a relief after several months of lackluster numbers,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management. Those previous months are also now looking better, she added. “Combined August and September counts were revised upwards by 12,000.”

Employment in professional and business services increased by 78,000 in October, compared with an average gain of 52,000 per month over the previous 12 months.

Job gains also occurred in administrative and support services (46,000), health care (45,000), retail trade (44,000), food services (42,000), and construction employment (31,000) in October.

Mining employment continued to trend down in October (-5,000). The industry has shed 109,000 jobs since reaching a recent employment peak in December 2014.

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, financial activities and government, showed little or no change over the month.

In another optimistic sign, average hourly earnings for all employees rose by 9 cents to $25.20.

“Wage growth edged up, which aligns with our own Leading Indicators of National Employment findings on increases in new-hire compensation,” Schramm said. “Our numbers also show high levels of recruiting difficulty for jobs of most strategic importance. These latest BLS numbers suggest that recruiting difficulty is likely to continue to be a challenge for many of our members as we move into the holiday hiring season.”

Temporary Employment

Staffing firms created 24,500 new jobs in October 2015, up 0.8 percent from the previous month and 4.1 percent from October 2014. Year-to-year staffing job growth averaged 5.3 percent over the past 12 months. The BLS data indicated that employment of temporary help increased 2.2 percent from September to October.

“Staffing and recruiting firms are reporting increases in demand for direct-hire permanent-placement orders for talent across several sectors,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “This is an encouraging sign that businesses believe that demand for their goods and services will continue to grow.”

Unemployment Rate Continues to Fall

There are officially 7.9 million unemployed individuals in the United States as of October 2015, corresponding to a jobless rate seen by federal officials as consistent with full employment.

The unemployment rates for adult men (4.7 percent) and adult women (4.5 percent) showed little or no change from the previous tally, as did the figures for unemployed individuals who are black (9.2 percent), Hispanic (6.3 percent), white (4.4 percent) and Asian (3.5 percent).

Teenagers’ jobless rate improved from 16.3 percent to 15.9 percent.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) sits at 2.1 million and accounts for 26.8 percent of the unemployed.

The civilian labor force participation rate—stuck on low for years—remained steady at 62.4 percent.

The number of individuals categorized as involuntary part-time workers—those seeking full-time employment but working part time—edged down by 269,000 to 5.8 million in October.

Additionally, 1.9 million people were considered marginally attached to the labor force—those who are unemployed but want and are available for work, and who had looked for a job sometime in the previous 12 months. Among this group, 665,000 individuals were considered discouraged—not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million people marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work in the past month for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities, according to the BLS.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy​​

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