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Economics & Job Creation
“The Employment Situation – October 2023”
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 150,000 in October, and the unemployment rate changed little at 3.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in health care, government, and social assistance. Employment declined in manufacturing due to strike activity. This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry. For more information about the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys, see the Technical Note. Household Survey Data Both the unemployment rate, at 3.9 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.5 million, changed little in October. However, since their recent lows in April, these measures are up by 0.5 percentage point and 849,000, respectively. (See table A-1.) Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (13.2 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), Blacks (5.8 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (4.8 percent) showed little change in October. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.) Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers increased by 164,000 over the month to 1.6 million. The number of persons on temporary layoff changed little at 873,000. (See table A-11.) In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.3 million. The long-term unemployed accounted for 19.8 percent of all unemployed persons. (See table A-12.) Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.2 percent, changed little in October. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.3 million, changed little in October. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.) In October, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 5.4 million, little different from the prior month. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job. (See table A-1.) Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons marginally attached to the labor force changed little at 1.4 million in October. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, also changed little over the month at 416,000. (See Summary table A.) Establishment Survey Data Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 150,000 in October, below the average monthly gain of 258,000 over the prior 12 months. In October, job gains occurred in health care, government, and social assistance. Employment in manufacturing declined due to strike activity. (See table B-1.) Health care added 58,000 jobs in October, in line with the average monthly gain of 53,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, employment continued to trend up in ambulatory health care services (+32,000), hospitals (+18,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+8,000). Employment in government increased by 51,000 in October and has returned to its pre-pandemic February 2020 level. Monthly job growth in government had averaged 50,000 in the prior 12 months. In October, employment continued to trend up in local government (+38,000). Social assistance added 19,000 jobs in October, compared with the average monthly gain of 23,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, employment continued to trend up in individual and family services (+14,000). In October, construction employment continued to trend up (+23,000), about in line with the average monthly gain of 18,000 over the prior 12 months. Employment continued to trend up over the month in specialty trade contractors (+14,000) and construction of buildings (+6,000). Employment in manufacturing decreased by 35,000 in October, reflecting a decline of 33,000 in motor vehicles and parts that was largely due to strike activity. In October, employment in leisure and hospitality changed little (+19,000). The industry had added an average of 52,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. Employment in professional and business services was little changed in October (+15,000) and has shown little net change since May. Employment in temporary help services changed little over the month (+7,000) but is 229,000 below its peak in March 2022. In October, employment in transportation and warehousing was little changed (-12,000) and has shown little net change over the year. Over the month, warehousing and storage lost 11,000 jobs, while air transportation added 4,000 jobs. Information employment changed little in October (-9,000). Employment in motion picture and sound recording continued to trend down (-5,000); the industry has lost 44,000 jobs since May, at least partially reflecting the impact of an ongoing labor dispute. Over the month, employment showed little change in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; wholesale trade; retail trade; financial activities; and other services. In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $34.00. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.1 percent. In October, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 10 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $29.19. (See tables B-3 and B-8.) The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.3 hours in October. In manufacturing, the average workweek was little changed at 40.0 hours, and overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 2.9 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.) The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised down by 62,000, from +227,000 to +165,000, and the change for September was revised down by 39,000, from +336,000 to +297,000. With these revisions, employment in August and September combined is 101,000 lower than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.)