Job growth rose to 151,000 last month; unemployment rate still 9.6%

November 6, 2010

By Patrice Hill-The Washington Times

Job growth picked up last month to 151,000 as employers across a broad spectrum of industries added to their staff, the Labor Department reported Friday morning.

While the job situation was considerably improved from the summer, when layoffs in the public sector led to overall job losses, October’s job gains were not enough to draw down the unemployment rate from 9.6 percent, where it has stayed for months. Unemployment is down from its peak a year ago of 10.1 percent, however.

The brighter jobs picture suggests that the Federal Reserve’s cash infusion for the economy may already be working to spur a pick-up in economic activity. The growth in jobs was particularly large in retail, at 27,900 during the month, suggesting that merchants expect a recent uptick in consumer spending to continue.

Growth in education and health care jobs was also robust, at 34,900, and temporary jobs resumed their strong expansion of 53,000 during the month. Even the beleaguered construction industry saw a small job gain of 5,000, helping to offset relatively small losses of 8,000 positions in government and 7,000 in manufacturing.

“This is a good for growth story — no double-dip recession here. The recovery continues,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities.

The nation’s important service sector — which comprises about two-thirds of the economy — is showing steady improvement, with areas that employ millions of people like education and health care, business services and trade, posting a string of job gains in recent months, he noted.

A rise in the workweek to 34.3 hours from 34.2 in September will “support positive economic momentum going forward,” he said.

Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute, hailed the acceleration in jobs gains, and noted one pleasant surprise was that the job losses in state and local government were unexpectedly modest.

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