Nonfarm payrolls increase, but jobless rate unchanged

U.S. payrolls edged up in October after four straight months of declines, but not enough to lower the unemployment rate.

According to the latest Labor Department estimates, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000 even as the jobless rate held steady at 9.6 percent.

The October gain was the first since May, when nonfarm payrolls swelled 432,000 with the addition of temporary workers hired to conduct the 2010 census.

Payrolls declined in each of the subsequent four months, although by smaller amounts. According to revised information, August job losses were revised downward from 57,000 to 1,000 and September losses were revised downward from 95,000 to 41,000.

Meanwhile, though, the monthly unemployment rate has varied little so far this year, ranging only four-tenths of a percent from a high of 9.9 percent in April to a low of 9.5 percent in June and July.

For October, job gains were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Temporary help services added a net 35,000 jobs, while employment in retail trades grew a net 28,000 with gains at automobile dealers and electronics and appliances stores. Health care payrolls grew a net 24,000 and mining employment increased 8,000.

Manufacturing payrolls slipped a net 7,000 jobs in October, while employment in construction, financial activities, information, transportation and wholesale trades showed little change.

Overall, private-sector payrolls rose 159,000 in October. Since December, private sector employment has grown 1.1 million.

The average workwork for employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up a tenth of an hour to 34.3 hours. The manufacturing work week rose a tenth of an hour to 40.3 hours.