The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly Employment Situation Summary for October and the data indicates modest job growth in October, with 80,000 nonfarm, private sector jobs added to payrolls. The overall unemployment rate moved slightly downward to 9 percent.
Today’s BLS report comes one day after Senate Republicans blocked another element of President Obama’s jobs package, an infrastructure jobs bill. The legislation was crafted from the larger American Jobs Act that congressional Republicans have blocked as they have refused to consider proposals to raise taxes on high earners as a means to increase federal revenues.
Black unemployment remains persistently high at 15.1 percent, with Black men continuing to have the highest unemployment rate (16.2 percent) among all adults and Black women (12.6 percent) the highest among women 20 years old and over. The overall highest unemployment rate belongs to Black teenagers, 16 to 19 years old, at 37.8 percent. By comparison the white unemployment rate is 8 percent, and 7.9 percent for white men and 7 percent for white women. The rate for white teenagers is 21.8 percent.
The BLS data shows job growth in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, health care and mining in the private sector. There was a continued downward trend in government employment as state and local governments continued to pare down their workforces. Over the past 12 months nonfarm payroll employment has increased by an average of 125,000 jobs per month.
Employment in business and professional services increased by 32,000 last month and has grown by 562,000 jobs over the last 12 months. The service sector and health care have been growth areas of the economy. The health care sector gained 12,000 jobs last month, partly driven by 8,000 new jobs in physicians’ offices. Over the last 12 months the health care sector has added 313,000 jobs to payrolls.
The leisure and hospitality sector showed a gain of 22,000 jobs in October. The sector has rebounded from a low point in January 2010, adding 344,000 jobs since then. Employment in mining also trended upward last month, adding 6,000 jobs.
Construction jobs continued to decline in October, declining by 22,000 jobs after adding 27,000 jobs in September. Employment in residential and nonresidential construction has shown little change over the course of this year. The downward spiral is all the more ironic given Republican opposition to the infrastructure package that was carved out of the President’s larger jobs bill that congressional Republicans blocked after refusing to consider raising taxes on high income earners.
Employment in retail trade edged up by 10,000 jobs in general merchandise stores and 6,000 jobs were added motor vehicle and parts dealers. The retail sector will be closely watched for seasonal employment gains during the upcoming holiday shopping months. Government employment declined by 24,000 jobs last month. State and local governments have been shedding jobs since the second half of 2008. This trend is particularly problematic for Black workers and the Black middle class, as government employment has traditionally been a source of good wage jobs for African-Americans.