Payroll gains lure more job hunters

The pace of job growth has quickened in the United States, a trend that’s prompted more people to look for work.

According to the latest Labor Department estimates, nonfarm payrolls increased 171,000 in October.

The national unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a point to 7.9 percent as 578,000 more people counted themselves as part of the labor force, but only 410,000 more people reported having a job. Over the past year, the U.S. jobless rate has dropped nearly two points.

Changes in nonfarm payrolls are based on surveys of businesses. The unemployment rate is based on surveys of households.

Estimates of nonfarm payroll gains in September and August were revised upward a total of 84,000 to 340,000. Counting the estimate for October, nonfarm payrolls have increased an average of 157,000 a month so far in 2012. That’s slightly more than the average monthly gain of 153,000 jobs in 2011.

Meanwhile, though, the number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work 27 weeks or longer was little changed at 5 million. That figure constitutes more than 40 percent of the unemployed.

Another 8.3 million people were counted among those working part-time for economic reseasons because their hours have been reduced or they’re unable to find full-time positions.

For October, gains in nonfarm payrolls were spread out among several industry sectors. Professional and businesses services added 51,000 jobs, while employment in retail trades increased 36,000. Health care payrolls rose 35,000. Leisure and hospitality employment continued to trend up with the addition of 28,000 positions. The construction sector added 17,000 jobs, most of those in specialty trade contracting.

The mining sector shed 9,000 jobs in October, most of those in support activities.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.4 hours for a fourth straight month. The manufacturing workweek edged down a tenth of an hour to 40.5 hours.

Average hourly earnings on private, nonfarm payrolls slipped a cent to $23.58. Over the past year, however, average hourly earnings have increased 1.6 percent.