Unemployment drops a tick to 9 percent

Nov. 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. economy added 80,000 jobs in October, pulling the unemployment rate down from 9.1 percent to 9 percent.

The critical employment report showed private sector jobs growing by 104,000 while government jobs fell by 24,000.

In October, 13.9 million people were listed as unemployed, prompting the department to note the change in the unemployment rate shows little in long-term gains.

"The unemployment rate has remained in a narrow range from 9.0 to 9.2 percent since April," the report said.

The economy appears "to be stuck in low gear," said economics Professor Peter Morici at the University of Maryland.

"Nearly 14 million unemployed," he said, was "a change that was not significant given that many adults remain on the sidelines and too discouraged to look for work."

Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said, "Today's report provides further evidence for why it is so important that Congress pass the president's American Jobs Act to put more money into the paychecks of working and middle class families."

In one positive sign, the number of people working part-time jobs but looking for full-time opportunities dropped by 374,000 to 8.9 million. However, 2.6 million are now listed as "marginally attached to the labor force," meaning they were no longer counted as unemployed because they had not looked for work in the past four weeks -- although they had looked for work within the past 12 months.

The government said professional business service jobs rose by 32,000 in October. Jobs in leisure services and hospitality rose by 22,000. Healthcare expanded by 12,000 jobs after gaining 45,000 in September.

In construction, 20,000 jobs were lost, almost leveling out the 27,000 construction jobs added to the economy in the previous month.

The Labor Department said the average workweek for private non-farm jobs was unchanged at 34.3 hours. For the manufacturing sector, the average workweek rose slightly, up 0.2 hours to 40.5 hours.

The average hourly pay rose by a nickel in October or 0.2 percent to $23.19, the department said.

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