Unemployment dropped a tenth of a point in October but the number of jobs added provided less than needed for population growth, according to the latest report from the BLS:

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend up in October (+80,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment in the private sector rose, with modest job growth continuing in professional and businesses services, leisure and hospitality, health care, and mining. Government employment continued to trend down. …

Total nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend up in October (+80,000). Over the past 12 months, payroll employment has increased by an average of 125,000 per month. In October, private-sector employment increased by 104,000, with continued job growth in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, health care, and mining. Government employment continued to contract in October.

Analysts expected an overall job growth number around 95,000, so this falls short of predictions. Even with just the private-sector growth taken into consideration, the number isn’t enough to keep up with population growth. I suspect the topline number fell because the workforce may still be shrinking, although the civilian participation rate and employment-population ratios remained the same as last month.

Looking a little deeper into the year-on-year numbers for people not in the work force (and therefore not counted in the jobless rate), those numbers (not seasonally adjusted) increased from October 2010, from 84.878 million to 86.181 million.  People who want work but remain outside the labor force rose from 5.867 million to 5.969 million, although the category of “discouraged workers” dropped from 1.219 million to 967,000.  The seasonally-adjusted numbers show a one-month increase in people who want a job but don’t have one from 6.241 million to 6.403 million — a bad sign after last month’s decrease in this figure.

However, U-6 dropped back down three-tenths of a point to 16.2%, the same level as in August, which is a move in the right direction, but not much change from the rest of 2011.  That measures all unemployment, underemployment, and marginal attachment, and it’s a more reliable indicator than the top line number in this recovery. (via No Runny Eggs)

Reuters tries to find the happy thought:

The Labor Department says the economy added 80,000 jobs last month, the fewest in four months and below September’s revised total of 158,000. The unemployment rate dipped to 9 percent.

Businesses added 104,000 jobs, below September’s total. Government shed 24,000 jobs.

The report included some positive signs. The government revised August and September’s figures upward by 102,000. Average hourly earnings rose. And the unemployment rate fell for the first time since July, because a separate survey of households showed more people found work.

It’s weak tea, really, as we lost ground once again to population growth.  Essentially, the report shows that the 2.5% GDP rate in Q3 didn’t prompt much hiring, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise anyway.  It also shows that Barack Obama won’t get a rescue from the economy before his election bid, as the Fed expects no higher than 2.5-2.9% GDP growth in 2012.