U.S. labor update: Jobless rate down, jobs up

Unemployment in the United States has decreased to its lowest level in more than seven years even as payrolls have increased.

According to the latest Labor Department estimates, the jobless rate edged down a tenth of a point to 5 percent in October. That’s the lowest level since April 2008.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 271,000 in October, the largest monthly increase since December 2014.

The initial estimate for payroll gains in September was revised upward to 153,000, although the August increase was revised downward to 137,000. The changes resulted in a total addition of 12,000 net new jobs for the two months.

With the revised numbers, monthly payroll gains have averaged 230,000 over the past year.

Still, the number of people counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer was essentially unchanged in October at 2.1 million. The ranks of those counted as working part-time because their hours had been cut or they’re unable to find full-time positions dropped 269,000 to 5.8 million. The civilian labor force participation rate held steady at 62.4 percent.

Professional and business services added a net 78,000 jobs in October, while health care payrolls increased 45,000 and employment in retail trades rose 44,000.

Food services and drinking places added 42,000 jobs, and construction employment increased 31,000.

Payrolls declined another 5,000 in the mining sector, bringing to 109,000 the jobs lost since the last employment peak in December 2014.

The average workweek for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.5 hours. The manufacturing work week edged up a tenth of an hour to 40.7 hours.

Average hourly earnings for employees on private, nonfarm payrolls rose 9 cents to  $25.20. Over the past year, hourly earnings have increased 2.5 percent.