U.S. job gains defy shutdown concerns

The pace of job growth in the United States has picked up, contradicting expectations in the aftermath of a federal government shutdown.

Nonfarm payrolls grew 204,000 in October, according to the latest statistical snapshot from the Labor Department. Moreover, initial estimates for job gains in September and August were revised upward a combined 60,000 to 401,000.

Given the new numbers, payrolls have increased an average of 190,000 a month over the past year.

The unemployment rate edged up a tenth to 7.3 percent, though, as the civilian labor force dropped 720,000 and labor force participation fell another four-tenths of a percent to 62.8 percent. The number of people counted among the long-term unemployed was little changed at 4.1 million.

The October job gains defied concerns over how a 16-day partial federal government shutdown would affect the labor market. Nearly 450,000 federal employees were reported on temporary layoff or furlough.

Employment gains were spread among a number of industry sectors in October. The leisure and hospitality sector added 53,000 jobs, while retail trades added 44,000. Employment in professional and technical services increased 21,000 even as manufacturing payrolls grew 19,000, health care employment rose 17,000 and construction  payrolls increased 11,000. Federal government payrolls dropped 12,000.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.4 hours in October. The manufacturing workweek held steady at 40.9 hours.

Average hourly earnings of employees on private, nonfarm payrolls edged up 2 cents to $24.10. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have increased 52 cents, or 2.2 percent.