Job Market Update: U.S. Economy on Track to Have Best Job Growth Since 1999

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Source: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “The Employment Situation – October 2014” 

October marks another positive month for non-farm payroll employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its October 2014 unemployment report, showing an overall monthly gain of 214,000 jobs. This number is lower than the 230,000 that economists expected, but not bad considering the average monthly gains for the 12 months leading up to October were 222,000. January is now the only month of 2014 with job gains below 200,000. In total, since the beginning of the year nearly 2.3 million jobs have been added to the US economy.

The unemployment rate also declined by 0.1 percentage points, dropping from 5.9 percent to 5.8 percent, which is the lowest rate we’ve seen since September, 2008.

Revisions to prior months show that both August and September experienced more growth than was previously reported. The September payroll number was revised from +248,000 to +256,000 and the August number was revised from +180,000 to +203,000. That makes a combined 31,000 more jobs than initially reported.

A closer look at industries

October saw the highest increase in employment within the food services and drinking places, retail trade and health care sectors. The professional and business services sector also had a significant gain (+37,000 – still less than the average gain of 56,000 per month over the past 12 months), with numerous sub-sectors showing positive gains, including employment services (+24,000), administrative and support services (+18,200), and temporary help services (+15,100). Food services and drinking places added 41,800 jobs in October, compared with an average gain of 26,000 jobs per month over the last year. Retail trade rose by 27,100, seeing growth within general merchandising stores (+11,900) and automobile dealers (+4,300). Health care added 24,500 jobs, comparable to the 12-month average gain of 21,000 new jobs per month.

Taking revisions from the past two months, overall job growth has averaged 213,000 over the past year and 223,667 over the past three months. This time last year, the job gains were hovering between 150,000 and 200,000. Increases in our third quarter average are a clear indicator that 2014 has been the year of job growth.

Household Survey Data

Both the unemployment rate (5.8 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (9 million) decreased in October. Since January, 2014, the unemployment rate and number of unemployed persons have declined by 0.8 percentage point and 1.2 million, respectively.

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