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Drop in October Jobless Rate Points to Healing Labor Market

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The U.S. labor market showed additional signs of recovery last month, as employers added 638,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dipped below 7% in a sign that the economy is healing from the pandemic-induced downturn.

The economy added 638,000 new jobs in October, down from 672,000 in September though largely in line with consensus forecasts of around 650,000. The jobless rate fell to 6.9%, its lowest since the pandemic began in March.

More broadly, the number of positions added to the economy grew for a sixth straight month, the Labor Department said, as growth in private-sector positions offset a drop in government jobs. 

Private employers added 906,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, offsetting a 268,000 drop in the public sector. Among the industries that hired the most workers last month was leisure and hospitality, a broad category that includes restaurants, museums, and performing arts establishments.

Employers have added 12.1 million jobs since April, more than half the 22.2 million lost in the spring. However, more than seven months into the pandemic some 10.1 million Americans still remain out of work, which in turn has affected the Labor Department's tally of the number of people actively searching for a job.

Even so, those figures also moved higher last month, with the labor force participation rate rising 0.3 percentage points to 61.7%. A separate measure that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons also declined, falling to 12.1% from 12.8% in September.  

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