Labor update: U.S. payrolls, jobless rate up

Payrolls continue to grow in the United States even as the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year-low.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 128,000 and the jobless rate edged up a tenth of a point to 3.6 percent in October, according to the latest Labor Department estimates.

Overall payrolls increased despite a drop in manufacturing employment because of a General Motors strike.

The initial estimate for payroll gains in September was revised upward 44,000 to 180,000. The estimate for August was revised upward 51,000 to 219,000.

With the latest numbers, payrolls increased an average of 167,000 a month through the first 10 months of 2019. Payrolls increased an average of 223,000 a month in 2018.

For October, 5.9 million people were counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work. Of those, 1.3 million people have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer.

Another 4.4 million people were counted among those working part time because their hours had been cut or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor participation rate edged up a tenth of a point to 63.3 percent.

Payroll gains were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Employment increased 48,000 in food services and at drinking places, 22,000 in professional and business services, 16,000 in financial activities and 15,000 in health care.

Manufacturing payrolls decreased 36,000, a reflection of strike activity. Federal government employment fell 17,000 as 20,000 temporary workers hired to prepare for the 2020 census completed their work.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.4 hours. The manufacturing work week shortened two-tenths of an hour 40.3 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 6 cents to $28.18. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 3 percent.