The October jobs data were released today by the BLS and while it can’t compare to our stash of Snickers and Peanut Butter Cups, we’re happy to say the news is generally pretty sweet.
171,000 jobs were added in October, continuing several months of strong job growth. Job growth has picked up steam in recent months. However, the recovery has still moved more slowly for women: women regained only 39 percent of the jobs they lost during the recession while men regained 45 percent. Although women gained public sector jobs this month, heavy job losses in the public sector over the recovery continue to be a major factor in the weaker economic recovery for women.
Overall unemployment is essentially unchanged from last month – the slight increase to 7.9 percent is due primarily to jobless workers starting (or restarting) their job hunts. This was also the reason for the small rise in the unemployment rate for adult women, up to 7.2 percent in October. Small increases in the unemployment rate that are driven by people entering the labor force aren’t a sign that the economy is getting weaker – they show that people are regaining confidence in the job market. But they do show that there still are too few jobs for everyone who wants to work.
One piece of data that isn’t showing much progress is the long-term unemployment rate. More than four in ten jobless adult women (42.7 percent) and men (46.4 percent) were still unable to find work after searching for six months or longer. When Congress returns this month, one of the things they’ll have on their plate is the expiration of federal unemployment insurance benefits. These federal benefits provide additional weeks of benefits for some long-term jobless workers. With long-term unemployment still so high, millions of workers can’t afford to lose this income that is a vital support to themselves and their families as they continue to look for work.
We’ve still got a ways to go but we’re on the right path.