Unemployment Surprise: 10.2 Percent Highest in 26 Years

By on November 6, 2009 in Current Events with 0 Comments

(Editor’s Note: To see the tables referenced in this article,  download this information  in a PDF document from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

The unemployment rate rose from 9.8 to 10.2 percent in October, and nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline (-190,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The largest job losses over the month were in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade.

Household Survey Data

In October, the number of unemployed persons increased by 558,000 to 15.7 million. The unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage point to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 8.2 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.7 percent) and whites (9.5 percent) rose in October. The jobless rates for adult women (8.1 percent), teenagers (27.6 percent), blacks (15.7 percent), and Hispanics (13.1 percent) were little changed over the month. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed over the month at 5.6 million. In October, 35.6 percent of unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more. (See table A-9.)

The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed over the month at 65.1 percent. The employment-population ratio continued to decline in October, falling to 58.5 percent. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in October at 9.3 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-5.)

About 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in October, reflecting an increase of 736,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months.

They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-13.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 808,000 discouraged workers in October, up from 484,000 a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 190,000 in October. In the most recent 3 months, job losses have averaged 188,000 per month, compared with losses averaging 357,000 during the prior 3 months. In contrast, losses averaged 645,000 per month from November 2008 to April 2009. Since December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 7.3 million. (See table B-1.)

Construction employment decreased by 62,000 in October. Monthly job losses have averaged 67,000 during the most recent 6 months, compared with an average decline of 117,000 during the prior 6 months. October job losses were concentrated in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-30,000) and in heavy construction (-14,000). Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.6 million.

Manufacturing continued to shed jobs (-61,000) in October, with losses in both durable and nondurable goods production. Over the past 4 months, job losses in manufacturing have averaged 51,000 per month, compared with an average monthly loss of 161,000 from October 2008 through June 2009. Manufacturing employment has fallen by 2.1 million since December 2007.

Retail trade lost 40,000 jobs in October. Employment declines were concentrated in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-16,000) and in department stores (-11,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing decreased by 18,000 in October.

Health care employment continued to increase in October (29,000). Since the start of the recession, health care has added 597,000 jobs.

Temporary help services has added 44,000 jobs since July, including 34,000 in October. From January 2008 through July 2009, temporary help services had lost an average of 44,000 jobs per month.

The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.0 hours in October. The manufacturing workweek rose by 0.1 hour to 40.0 hours, and factory overtime increased by 0.2 hour over the month. (See table B-2.)

In October, average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $18.72. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.4 percent, while average weekly earnings have risen by only 0.9 percent due to declines in the average workweek. (See table B-3.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from -201,000 to -154,000, and the change for September was revised from -263,000 to -219,000.
 

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