The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 8, 2013

US added unexpectedly strong 204,000 jobs in Oct.

Bump in unemployment rate related to shutdown

(Continued)

One troubling detail in the report: The percentage of Americans working or looking for work fell to a fresh 35-year low. But that figure was likely distorted by the shutdown.

About 800,000 government workers were furloughed for all or part of the shutdown, which lasted from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16. Many were counted as unemployed and were considered on temporary layoff.

But the furloughed workers were still counted as employed by the government survey that calculates job growth because they were ultimately paid for their time off. Better-paying industries boosted job gains: Manufacturers added 19,000, the most since February. And construction firms gained 11,000 jobs.

Hiring also jumped in lower-paying fields. Retailers added 44,400 employees. Hotels, restaurants and entertainment firms added 53,000 jobs.

Some earlier reports had hinted that hiring was improving. Retail stores, shipping companies, and other services firms stepped up hiring in October, according to a private survey of service firms.

And the number of people seeking unemployment benefits has fallen back to pre-recession levels after four weeks of declines. Applications for unemployment benefits are a proxy for layoffs. Their steady decline indicates that companies are cutting fewer jobs.

Economic growth accelerated in the July-September quarter to an annual rate of 2.8 percent, the government said Thursday. That was up from a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter.

But greater restocking by businesses drove much of the increase last quarter, a trend that may not be sustainable. Consumers and businesses slowed their pace of spending over the summer.

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