Oct Jobs Report: The Real Story Behind the Numbers

The Labor Department said the US economy added 151,000 non-farm jobs in October, more than twice the number analysts were expecting. Private-sector payroll employment rose by 159,000. The unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent--remember that job creation and unemployment data are based on two different surveys, which is why they can seem at odds.

Solid gains were seen in temporary services, retail and health care, while manufacturing, which had been leading the charge earlier in the recovery, lost 7,000 jobs.

Here's a quick run-down of the good, the bad and the challenges that remain for employment:

POSITIVES

  • Oct Job creation MUCH better than expected -- most new jobs created in five months
  • Positive revisions to previous two months (110,000 fewer total jobs lost and additional 93,000 private sector jobs created)
  • Part-timers fell by 318,000 to 9.2 million--it's a big number, but October's results partially offset the previous two months' gains
  • Since December 2009, private sector employment has risen by 1.1 million
  • Economy has gained 829,000 jobs over the last year
NEGATIVES
  • 7.5 million jobs lost since the recession started in December 2007
  • 14.8 million people still unemployed
  • Unemployment rate has been stuck at 9.6 percent for three straight months
  • Unemployment rate has been above 9 percent since May 2009
  • Broad unemployment rate (part-time, marginally-attached) still high, at 17 percent
  • Long-term unemployed (out of work more than 27 weeks) unchanged at 6.2 million, which represents 42 percent of total number of unemployed
CHALLENGES
  • Economy needs approximately 125,000 jobs per month to keep pace with new entrants to the labor force
  • Economy needs more than 200,000 jobs a month (for a bunch of months in a row) to put a dent in the overall unemployment rate
  • Some of the long-term unemployed could join the 1.5 million "99ers," who have exhausted their unemployment benefits