The U.S. government said Friday that employers added 214,000 jobs in October, extending the healthiest pace of hiring in eight years. The burst of hiring lowered the unemployment rate to 5.8 percent from 5.9 percent — the lowest rate since July 2008.
The Labor Department also said 31,000 more jobs were added in August and September than it had previously estimated. Employers have now added at least 200,000 jobs for nine straight months, the longest such stretch since 1995.
Along with the job gains, economic growth has accelerated this year. Yet despite the improvement, voters identified economic anxiety as their top concern in Tuesday’s elections. That suggests the improvement hasn’t yet been felt by many Americans.
Nearly 60 percent of voters said they thought the economy was stagnating or worsening. Only one-third saw it as improving.
But the picture has brightened enough that the Federal Reserve announced last month that it was ending its bond purchase program, which had been intended to lower interest rates and stimulate economic growth.
One likely reason for voters’ concern is that paychecks are still rising at sluggish pace. Average hourly pay rose 3 cents in October to $24.57. That’s just 2 percent higher than it was 12 months earlier, only slightly ahead of the 1.7 percent inflation rate.
And what wage gains have occurred have benefited mainly the wealthy. Average income grew 10 percent from 2010 through 2013 for the wealthiest one-tenth of Americans, after adjusting for inflation, according to the Fed. For everyone else, incomes stagnated or declined.
Still, the job market’s improvement prompted more Americans to start looking for work last month. The percentage of Americans with jobs or looking for one ticked up in October to 62.8 percent. And 267,000 of those out of work were hired, lowering the unemployed population to just under 9 million.
See how the U.S. labor force breaks down
View this slideshow full screen to see how many Americans are unemployed, discouraged workers, marginally attached to the labor force, and more.
- Marginally attached: Persons who not in the labor force but want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They are not counted as unemployed because they did not look for work in the last four weeks.
- Discouraged workers: Persons who are not in the labor force, but want and are available for a job, and they have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. However, they aren’t currently looking because they believe there are no jobs available or there are none for which they would qualify.
The job gains were broad-based, though many lower-paying industries posted large increases. Retailers added 27,100 jobs, while restaurants, hotels and entertainment firms gained 52,000.
Some higher-paying industries also showed progress. Manufacturers added 15,000 jobs, up from 9,000 the previous month. Transportation and shipping companies gained 13,300. And professional and business services, which includes accountants, engineers and other higher-skilled fields, added 37,000.
Analysts say the economic expansion remains strong enough to support the current pace of hiring. Over the past six months, the economy has grown at a 4.1 percent annual rate.
U.S. manufacturers are expanding at the fastest pace in three years, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group. A measure of new orders showed that factory output will likely continue to grow in coming months. A separate survey by the ISM found that retailers, restaurants and other service companies grew at a healthy pace last month.
Home sales rose in September at their fastest rate this year, a sign that housing could pick up after a sluggish performance for most of this year.
Still, faltering global growth could create trouble for the U.S. economy in the months ahead. Exports fell in September, the government said this week, widening the trade deficit. That led many economists to shave their predictions of economic growth in the July-September quarter to an annual rate of 3 percent or less, down from the government’s initial estimate of 3.5 percent.
Report by The Associated Press
Saruhan Hatipoglu of Business Environment Risk Intelligence discusses jobs report
For more on the U.S. jobs report, CCTV America interviewed Saruhan Hatipoglu the chief executive of Business Environment Risk Intelligence.
Saruhan Hatipoglu of Business Environment Risk Intelligence discusses jobs reportFor more on the U.S. jobs report, CCTV America interviewed Saruhan Hatipoglu the chief executive of Business Environment Risk Intelligence.
U.S. government has fewer less younger employees
Despite the latest job numbers, the United States government is actually having a hard time attracting young people to its workforce. The reasons for this are varied, including a sometimes confusing, prolonged hiring process, wages that aren’t competitive, and the fact that some just view the work as boring. CCTV America’s Sean Callebs reported the story from Washington.
The most recent statistics show that only 7 percent of federal employees are under the age of 30. That’s the smallest number in nearly a decade, adding to concerns that the U.S. may face a federal brain drain. Without fresh young faces with fresh thoughts, the U.S. could lag further behind other nations in the digital age. What’s more, nearly 25 percent of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire within just two years.
The government has its work cut out for itself, said Mark Hamrick the Washington Bureau Chief for Bankrate.com who follows consumer and hiring issues in the United States.
“It has not been the stable, highly-rewarding place to work for the U.S. government that it was for many years,” Hamrick said.
In 1975, more than 20 percent of government workers were under 30. Today, statistics show less than 3 percent of engineering students and only 1 percent of business students want to work for the government.
One young government employee, Zachary Whitlow, said that he has a dream job. Whitlow recently graduated from college with a history degree and spends his days as a U.S. National Park Ranger, working at Fort Washington just outside of the nation’s capital.
What he really enjoys, however, is literally getting into character as a Union soldier during the U.S. Civil War era.
“This is honestly the most fulfilling job I have ever had,” said Whitlow. “I just really hope that I can get a young person interested… and hopefully inspire them to maybe be a park ranger someday… just inspire them to pursue what they are passionate about.”
U.S. government has fewer younger employeesDespite the latest job numbers, the United States government is actually having a hard time attracting young people to its workforce. The reasons for this are varied, including a sometimes confusing, prolonged hiring process, wages that aren't competitive, and the fact that some just view the work as boring. CCTV America's Sean Callebs reported the story from Washington.
Reducing coal dependence in Kentucky proves long road
Eastern Kentucky’s economic lifeblood centers on coal mining. Times are tough in that part of the state where the area is shedding coal jobs by the thousands. Some say the time is ripe for change in finding new ways of creating both jobs and energy.
Justin Maxson, an economic development expert, said that energy efficiency “makes sense because it saves dollars for the homeowners, creates job opportunities for contractors, and reduces coal to burn.”
Observers say one of the keys to Kentucky’s economic future, like other places that depend on one industry, is to embrace political change. Even though the coal sector employs less than one percent of all the people who live in the state the industry’s political influence is huge. Reformers like Maxson say its stifling progress toward embracing alternative energy resources. He acknowledges it will take a long time and creative incentives to replace the good-paying mining jobs.
“I don’t think we have a ‘no-coal’ future,” said Maxson. “I think we have a low coal future.”
However, laid off coal miners, Allen Black and Allen Gibson, have their doubts that any industry can replace mining jobs which can pay more than $100,000 a year.
“We like coal because people eat from it,” said Gibson. “A solar panel…it don’t take 14 men to keep those solar panels working.”
Black and Gibson favor technological advances to reduce power plant carbon emissions so the state can keep burning coal.
“For renewables to be economically feasible… for them to be able to survive without government subsidies, which is all that’s keeping them alive now… we’re still 15-20 years away from that,” said Black.
CCTV America’s Jessica Stone reported this story from Kentucky.