Economy adds 151K jobs, unemployment at 9.6%

By Tribune newspapers
Posted Nov. 5, 2010 at 8:22 a.m.

The nation’s sluggish job market showed signs of life in October: Employers added a net 151,000 jobs over the month, and private-sector job creation was the strongest since April, the Labor Department said Friday.

However, the better-than-expected job gains weren’t large enough to bring down the unemployment rate, which remained stuck at 9.6 percent for the third month in a row. A broader measure of unemployment and underemployment, which includes part-time workers who can’t find full-time jobs, dropped a notch to 17 percent last month.

In October, private employers added 159,000 jobs, up from an upwardly revised 107,000 in September and 143,000 in August. As in recent months, a big chunk of the job gains in October was at temporary-help firms and healthcare services. Restaurants and the retail sector also beefed up hiring last month. Manufacturing and construction, the two hardest-hit industries during the recession, were little changed.

Total government employment was down just 8,000 last month, a contrast to September, when big cuts in state and local education payrolls and continuing layoffs of census workers led to a loss of 148,000 government jobs.

Friday’s jobs report capped a week of generally positive economic news that suggests the recovery may be regaining some of the momentum lost in the spring. Other reports showed construction activity that may be bottoming, manufacturing that is continuing to expand and stronger-than-expected auto sales. The Federal Reserve’s announcement Wednesday that it will inject an additional $600 billion into the financial system to stimulate spending and investment also has added to hopes of a stronger recovery.

Even so, the economy had 7.3 million fewer payroll jobs last month than in October 2007, just before the official start of the recession. And more than a year after the official end of the recession, Friday’s report indicated that the number of jobless workers remained at nearly 15 million people, with more than 6 million unemployed for more than six months.

With big debts weighing on consumers and uncertainties over taxes and other government policies, employers have been holding the line on their staffing levels even as they continue to invest aggressively in new equipment and software to enhance productivity. Private surveys suggest near-term job prospects, while improving, aren’t likely to accelerate sharply.

“Although expectations for business conditions and real sales trends improved in October, it wasn’t enough to produce a surge in job-creation plans, which remained mired at recession levels,” said William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business, after surveying small businesses last month.

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  1. Karl Nov. 5, 2010 at 8:58 a.m.

    Ten straight months of private sector job gains. I just hope the recovery can survive the Republicans spending cut plans. We still have a long way to go to get another 7 million Americans back to work.

  2. alexII Nov. 5, 2010 at 11:01 a.m.

    good, unexpected news. Perhaps a few weeks too late for Democrats.

  3. H Katz Nov. 5, 2010 at 11:25 a.m.

    Again, job growth, but if it does not dent unemployment….we can only hope onces business learn that they are no longer targets, they might start hiring people.

  4. john Nov. 5, 2010 at 11:41 a.m.

    We need 200,000 job just to keep up with the labour force new entrants,the number may sound good for a media story but if we added back the 99ers we would get a different picture for the 9.6% rate ,I also wonder how many got seasonal jobs in UPS and Toys’R'Us these are not replacement jobs for most people.

  5. conservativemaster Nov. 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Yeah Karl, if there are more jobs to be created it will not be in IL since the anti business Dems are still running the show here. It will intersting to see how job creation fares in other states if Obama lets Repulicans do anything while he still hold the Veto card. Right now it’s safe to say his stimulus did not work as advertised.

  6. NoMoreTaxCuts Nov. 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Right now whatt’s safe to say is that tax breaks didn’t and won’t work. 40% of the recovery act’s cost was tax breaks. Then we have the Bush tax cuts. If tax cuts work then we would have already recovered.

    Wait…. Maybe if we just extend the tax cuts, they’ll work the next time around. How many times will we be fooled?

  7. Joeschmo Nov. 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm


    Fine. Since you’re in such agreement with RAISING taxes, why don’t you send more to the IRS each year and tell them to keep it? Yep, I can hear the crickets chirping already….

    Do your research: The United States has the highest tax rate on businesses in the WORLD…and you wonder why everything is moving to China? You are taxed on gasoline, retail, your paycheck, your car, your clothes, etc… If you were to see how much you pay in taxes overall you’d be singing a different tune.

  8. Disgusted Nov. 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Joeschmo- you are properly named. The IRS does not keep money. The US does not have the highest tax rate. The jobs are not going all to China.