Latest Jobs Data Top Forecasts; Unemployment Rate Rises

In the last major economic release before the election, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that total nonfarm payrolls jumped by 171,000 jobs in October. The job gains were well above consensus estimates of around 125,000.

The headline unemployment number rose a tenth of a percentage point to 7.9%. Despite the better-than-expected job gains, the size of the civilian labor force rose by 578,000, pushing the labor participation rate upward and showing that more people are actively looking for work. Nevertheless, the number of unemployed workers out of work for more than half a year stayed relatively stable at about 5 million.

Among the industries showing the biggest gains in employment during October were professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. Within the overall gain of 51,000 jobs in professional and business services, jumps in computer systems design jobs of 7,000 and building and dwelling services jobs of 13,000 topped the category. Ambulatory health care services showed gains of 25,000 jobs, while gains of 7,000 jobs among motor vehicle and parts dealers continued to lead retail higher. Leisure and hospitality businesses also showed continuing strength, gaining 28,000 jobs during October. On the downside, the mining industry lost 9,000 jobs. Click here to open a PDF version of the data released today.

In addition to releasing figures for October, the BLS also made upward revisions to payroll numbers from August and September. Nonfarm payrolls rose 192,000 in August, up from earlier estimates of 142,000, while September's figure was revised from 114,000 to 148,000.

The BLS noted that Hurricane Sandy didn't factor into this month's report, as it completed its collection of data for its household survey before the storm. Any effects from Sandy will find their way into the BLS report for November, which is scheduled for release on Dec. 7.

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