Jobs report: 171K jobs added, jobless rate rises to 7.9%

posted at 8:31 am on November 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Looks like a wash from today’s jobs report. The US economy added 171,000 jobs, slightly more than expected, but the jobless rate rose to 7.9% as the household survey adjusted from last month’s outlier. The October survey had 269,000 fewer part-time workers, almost half of the additional 582,000 added in September:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. …

Both the unemployment rate (7.9 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (12.3 million) were essentially unchanged in October, following declines in September. …

The civilian labor force rose by 578,000 to 155.6 million in October, and the labor force participation rate edged up to 63.8 percent. Total employment rose by 410,000 over the month. The employment-population ratio was essentially unchanged at 58.8 percent, following an increase of 0.4 percentage point in September.

Economists expected an additional 125,000 jobs in today’s report, so this did beat expectations.  Otherwise, it’s not terribly remarkable, and the bump upward in the jobless rate more or less counters whatever positive impact the jobs addition has.  This is not enough to argue for a sustained jobs recovery or the beginning of a growth cycle; we saw better numbers in the first quarter, and those didn’t get sustained, either.

The U-6 number didn’t move much from the previous month.  It was 14.7%, and it’s now 14.6%.  When Obama took office, it was 14.2%; six months ago, it was 14.5%.  The overall unemployment situation isn’t improving significantly at all.  The number of people not in the workforce declined by 269,000, but at 88.341 million, it’s still higher than every month this year before August, and it’s 2.28 million higher than it was a year ago.

The participation rates are similarly depressed.  The civilian population participation rate, which measures workforce participation in relation to population size, moved up from 63.6% o 63.8%.  At the beginning of the Obama term, that was 65.7%, and it was 65.7% at the start of the Obama recovery in June 2009.  The employment-population rate, which measures employment in relation to population size, rose one-tenth of a point to 58.8%.  That was 60.6% at the start of Obama’s term, and was 59.4% at the start of the Obama recovery.  We’re still in an unemployment trough, and 171,000 jobs isn’t nearly enough to make up that kind of ground, not even on a consistent basis, which we’ve hardly seen.

CNBC noted those metrics in an oddly positive light:

Economists had been expecting the report to show a net of 125,000 new jobs and a steadying of the unemployment rate at 7.8 percent. Nomura Securities predicted the rate would fall to 7.7 percent, but most expected no change.

Most of the job creation came in the services sector, with a gain of 150,000, while government employment rolls saw a collective decrease of 13,000.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those employed part-time who would rather work full-time ticked lower to 14.6 percent.

The labor force participation rate, a key metric that measures those working and looking for jobs, edged higher to 63.8 percent after wallowing around 31-year lows for the past several months.

Those numbers are still “wallowing around 31-year lows.”

James Pethokoukis puts it in perspective:

If we were seeing a late surge in real jobs growth — say, 250K+ per month for six months, the 7.9% jobless rate wouldn’t matter.  On the other hand, I’m not sure that people absorb the actual number as much as they absorb their personal experience in the economy — which is why the U-6 number probably matters more, even if most people never hear about it.

Update: Via Drudge, Noel Sheppard notices that incomes declined slightly last month:

The Labor Department reported Friday that despite 184,000 jobs being added to non-farm payrolls in October, average hourly earnings for such employees edged down by 1 cent to $23.58.

Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees also dropped by 1 cent to $19.79.

This continues a trend reported by the Census Bureau in August finding that since the recovery began in June 2009, median household incomes have fallen 4.8 percent adjusted for inflation.

The decline in income relates directly to the health of the labor market.  In a more competitive market, incomes will increase.  This is as good a gauge as any, and again one that workers experience much more personally than U-3 or U-6 numbers.

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gumbyandpokey on November 2, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Benghazi, LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nobody cares about Benghazi.

gumbyandpokey on November 2, 2012 at 1:14 AM

You’re filth, pokebutt.

STFU and go away, trash.

Solaratov on November 2, 2012 at 1:00 PM

As I and others have been saying for months, there was no way they were going to let the unemployment rate be anything that starts wtih an 8 before election day.

Midas on November 2, 2012 at 1:02 PM

What am I supposed to do? Be a weird Pollyanna person and shill stuff I don’t believe. The same people optimistic today were optimistic in 2008 as well.

Illinidiva on November 2, 2012 at 12:56 PM

You are supposed to go seek help for your mental illness.

Shut up and get lost, moby.

JPeterman on November 2, 2012 at 1:02 PM

So people who disagree with you are mentally ill?

Illinidiva on November 2, 2012 at 1:09 PM

7.9%? Only if you still believe the thoroughly debunked 7.8% from last month. What happened? California forget to report AGAIN?

PJ Emeritus on November 2, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Tropical storm Sandy recovery beginning to make GWB Katrina recovery look pretty good. People eating out of garbage cans does not bid well for Obama’s government can save you spin. I think this storm actually moves PA into Romney win column and will suppress Obama turnout in NJ and NY, though he still wins those two states.

Ellis on November 2, 2012 at 12:52 PM

On that you’re right. And if this Menendez thing can somehow get legs over the weekend, he might get thrown out just because us NJeans are pissed off and miserable without power and heat.

I’m at a packed B&N right now so I can use wifi and heat.

njrob on November 2, 2012 at 1:21 PM

gumbyandpokey lives in your head.

Only you have the power to ban him.

chumpThreads on November 2, 2012 at 9:07 AM

hahaha, like the way you “banned” me back in March, after I correctly pointed out that O’bamna set a record in 2008 by winning 70% of the high school dropout vote? To wit:

With all due respect (and by that I mean none) you are without question one of the most grasping, ignorant and least relevant people who comment here.

I think I put you on “ignore” previously, but I’m now cranking it up to “in perpetuity throughout the universe forever” ignore.

And please don’t respond. I want to ignore you just as you are.

chumpThreads on March 3, 2012 at 1:50 PM

I’ll be watching the exit polls next week, Chimpy. I have no doubt your Dear Leader will get the other 30% this time!

Del Dolemonte on November 2, 2012 at 1:50 PM

7.9%? Only if you still believe the thoroughly debunked 7.8% from last month. What happened? California forget to report A%GAIN?

PJ Emeritus on November 2, 2012 at 1:11 PM

I think they secretly decided to leave california out alltogether, unemployment here being well above 10% and constantly taking up bama’s UE numbers :)

jimver on November 2, 2012 at 2:17 PM

What am I supposed to do? Be a weird Pollyanna person and shill stuff I don’t believe. The same people optimistic today were optimistic in 2008 as well.

Illinidiva on November 2, 2012 at 12:56 PM

You are weird all right…as for the rest, you don’t happen to have kept a list of people who dared be optimistic then and now, do you?? To shame them publicly for their optimism, while giving you a prize for your incontinent whining..jeez, get a grip, or a life, or both.

jimver on November 2, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Reposted from yesterday.

So are you are back to GOTV and Early Voting as the bombshell (atomic?) win for Obama, or are you still stuck on the hurricane which isn’t going to affect voting that much in swing states.

It’s all common sense.

Being strongly ahead in early voting in OH, all the battleground state polls being released showing Obama ahead, the good economic/jobs news (with more to come tomorrow), and the RCP national average showing Obama ahead all show Obama has the momentum in the final week. And, yes, the hurricane seems to be the moment that fate intervened on Obama’s behalf. Romney lost his momentum and never got it back and Obama started rising in the national polls. Add in Christie treating Obama like The Messiah, and it’s pretty easy to figure out he’s winning re-election.

gumbyandpokey on November 1, 2012 at 11:26 AM

I’m so saving this prediction to beat the plasticine Gumby upside the head tomorrow and going forward.

Say… You wouldn’t be a re-juvenated crrr6 would you.

She was pretty bold with a few predictions like “This will never come back to bite me”

AH_C on November 1, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Any more predictions?

AH_C on November 2, 2012 at 2:30 PM

rogerb on November 2, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Looks like it was all graded on an AA basis.
slickwillie2001 on November 2, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I think he’s plenty bright, but I’d imagine there are big differences between a ______ class and a ______ for Non-Math Majors class. They’re admitting as much by the name.
MA112- Calculus for Non-Math Majors here:
MTH 2280 – Calculus for Management, Life and Social Sciences
STT 1600 – Statistical Concepts

Those are neutered courses. They wouldn’t offer them (much less advertise “non-majors”) if not.

rogerb on November 2, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Jobs report: 171K jobs added, jobless rate rises to 7.9%

Well folks, the hamburger flippers might just win this election for Oba MaO.

More hamburger flippers got jobs last week but some others got nothing but an empty pink hamburger wRAPPER from the White House.


stefanslaw on November 2, 2012 at 2:45 PM

… I’ve got training in statistics and a myriad of other social science methods
libfreeordie on January 9, 2009 at 1:49 PM

rogerb on November 2, 2012 at 11:42 AM

: ) a myriad of social science methods, oh yes, that would be qualitative methods and…surprise, you guessed, quantitative methods (SPSS, STATA of which he has no clue, judging from his comments here). wow the myriadness of said research methods – is indeed oberwhelming :)…on the other hand cultural studies that he maintains is his field is not part of social sciences, but it’s usually listed under ‘humanities’ in most hniversities or colleges…but anyways…

jimver on November 2, 2012 at 2:57 PM

The new bronco bomma reality:

25 million unemployed or under-employed = good

4 million in NY/NJ without power/food/water/gas = good

8% unemployment = good

50 million on food stamps = good

near 15% black unemployed = good

Free unfettered abortion-on demand killing mostly millions of black babies = good

Islamic Terrorism on the rise = good

Strike Hornet on November 2, 2012 at 4:00 PM