U.S. labor report: Jobs up, jobless rate down

Payrolls swelled and the unemployment rate retreated in October as labor conditions continued to improve in the United States.

Nonfarm payrolls grew 638,000 and the jobless rate fell a point to 6.9 percent, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates.

Both the increase in payrolls and decrease in the unemployment rate exceeded expectations.

Initial estimates for payroll gains in September and October were revised upward a total of 15,000.

Payrolls have increased in each of the last six months, but employment remains 10.1 million below February and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

For October, the number of people counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work fell 1.5 million to 11.1 million. The number of those on temporary layoffs declined 1.4 million to 3.2 million.

Another 6.7 million were counted among those working part time because their hours were cut or they were unable to fin full-time positions.

The labor participation rate increased three-tenths of a point to 61.7 percent. That’s 1.7 points below the February level.

Payroll gains in October were spread out among a number of industry sectors. Employment increased 271,000 in leisure and hospitality, 208,000 in professional and business services and 104,000 in retail trades. Payrolls increased 84,000 in construction, 79,000 in health care and 63,000 in transportation and warehousing.

Government payrolls dropped 268,000  with the layoffs of 147,000 temporary employees working on the 2020 census.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.8 hours. The manufacturing workweek lengthened three-tenths of an hour to 40.5 hours.

Average hourly wages on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 4 cents to $29.50.