Nation & World News

More Jobs Than Expected Added, But Jobless Rate Rose In Oct.

By Mark Memmott on November 8th, 2013

There were 204,000 jobs added to payrolls in October, about 80,000 more than economists expected. But the jobless rate edged up to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent the month before, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

It appears that early October’s 16-day partial government shutdown was largely responsible for that uptick in the jobless rate. Meanwhile, employers showed some confidence in the economy by continuing to add to their payrolls even as lawmakers in Washington argued over the federal budget.

Other evidence of that confidence: The BLS also revised up its estimate of job growth in September. It now estimates that there were 163,000 jobs added to payrolls, not the 148,000 it originally reported.

We’ll be updating with more from the report and reactions to it.

Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. Economy Was “Gaining Traction” Before Shutdown, White House Says:

The upward revisions to job growth in August and September, combined with solid third quarter GDP growth reported yesterday, suggest that the economy was gaining traction in the months leading up to the government shutdown,” economic adviser Jason Furman writes on the White House blog.

Update at 9:25 a.m. ET. Boehner Says “Wages Are Still Stagnant.”

Republican reaction comes in this statement from House Speaker John Boehner:

“While it’s a good sign that more Americans found work last month than some predicted, wages are still stagnant, and millions of families and workers are facing cancellation notices and higher premiums because of Obamacare.”

According to BLS: “In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up by 2 cents to $24.10. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 52 cents, or 2.2 percent.”

The White House typically posts its reaction to the employment report here. We’ll add a highlight after it’s posted.

Update at 9:20 a.m. ET. Where The Jobs Were:

“The largest slice of hiring in October took place at retailers, bars and restaurants, lower-paying establishments that tend to boost hiring temporarily for the holiday season,” MarketWatch writes. “Yet almost every industry aside from government added workers, the Labor Department reported.”

Update at 9:12 a.m. ET. Ignore The Unemployment Rate?

Because of the skewing effects of the government shutdown, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessell recommends (via his Twitter account) to:

“Ignore fluky household survey this month. Payroll upward revision to Aug and Sept (+60k) bolster confidence in pleasantly big Oct number”

By “household survey” he’s referring to the data collected by BLS for its estimate of the nation’s unemployment rate. As we explained earlier, furloughed federal workers were counted as unemployed last month — even though they were going to be paid retroactively and would be returning to their jobs once the partial shutdown ended.

Update at 9:03 a.m. ET. Unemployed In One Survey, Employed In The Other:

The odd effect of the partial government shutdown on the October data is underscored by a passage in The New York Times‘ story on the news.

Each month the BLS does two surveys for its report — one of businesses (to generate data about payroll employment) and one of households (to produce the unemployment rate). The Times notes that:

“For the purposes of the October report, Labor Department statisticians counted furloughed [federal] workers as unemployed for the household survey but working for the employer survey. That helps explain why the growth of new jobs was so healthy but the unemployment rate climbed.”

Update at 9 a.m. ET. Not Enough To Get The Fed To “Taper?”

“Today’s jobs figures are surprisingly strong,” The Wall Street Journal writes on its live blog of the employment news. “But they’ll need to be followed up with an even better report next month for the Fed to seriously considering dialing back its $85 billion-per-month bond-buying program.”

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. “Surprisingly Strong,” But Outlook Isn’t As Positive:

“The labor market seemed surprisingly strong during October,” Conference Board economist Kathy Bostjancic says in a statement emailed to reporters. But she cautions that with surveys showing that consumer confidence is weak — meaning that their spending could also be modest at best in coming months — “employers are unlikely to be very optimistic and go out hiring many more workers.”

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Shutdown Affected Unemployment Rate:

“The unemployment rate figure went higher,” NPR’s Chris Arnold tells our Newscast Desk, “but was distorted because the Labor Department did its sampling during the federal government shutdown. A lot of government workers who were not working temporarily got counted as unemployed.”

According to BLS, “among the unemployed … the number who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 448,000.”

Our original post — “Coming Up: Latest Numbers On Jobs And Unemployment”:

The arguably most anticipated economic news of every month — the government’s look back at job creation and the unemployment rate — is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its data for October economists expect to hear that just 120,000 or so jobs were added to public and private payrolls and that the jobless rate rose to 7.3 percent from September’s 7.2 percent.

As NPR’s John Ydstie said on Morning Edition, the 16-day partial government shutdown in October surely affected the numbers we’ll hear about.

But that doesn’t mean today’s data should be dismissed. As John also pointed out, other recent economic indicators (including another survey about October) signal that job growth remains sluggish.

We’ll be updating with the news and reactions to it after the report is released.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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