On the Employment Situation in October

Today's employment report contained both signs of hope for recovery and painful evidence of continued labor market weakness.

Payroll employment declined 190,000 in October, continuing the steady trend of moderating job loss that began last spring. Furthermore, the employment loss in both August and September was revised down substantially. Importantly, employment in temporary help services, typically one of the first industries to see job gains, increased by 33,700. The motor vehicle industry also posted employment gains. These are hopeful signs that the unprecedented policy actions are working to stabilize the economy and put us on a path toward recovery.

The unemployment rate, however, rose four-tenths of a percentage point, to 10.2 percent. That this occurred despite the rise in real GDP last quarter reflects both the typical lag between GDP growth and unemployment decline, and the recent exceptional increases in productivity. Having the unemployment rate reach double-digits is a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done before American families see the job gains and reduced unemployment that they need and deserve.

October 2009 Job Numbers Chart

 

Christina Romer is Chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers

Related Topics: Economy
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