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U.S. Workforce Slowly Recovering with More Jobs

There appears to be a bit of bounce in the step of economic activity in the U.S. as total nonfarm payroll employment spiked by 638,000 in October, coupled by a 6.9% drop in the unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The story behind the story? The BLS indicated the springboard in the labor market was indicative of ongoing resumption of economic activity that COVID-19 had cut into as well as the efforts to put a lid on it.

A number of sectors, including leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction, also experienced notable job gains in October. Conversely, there was a drop off in employment in government.

The household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic characteristics, while nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings by industry are measured by the establishment survey.

In October, all major worker groups saw a downslide in unemployment rates, including a rate of 6.7% among adult men; 6.5%, adult women; 13.9%, teenagers; 6.0%, whites; blacks, 10.8%;  7.6%, Asians; Hispanics, 8.8%.

Meantime, the number of those on temporary layoff decelerated by 1.4 million to 3.2 million among the unemployed—down from the high of 18.1 million in April but 2.4 million higher than in February. In October, there were 3.7 million permanent job losers, which, while largely unchanged over the month, was 2.4 million higher than in February.

“The economy is going through an uneven recovery, with employment still cutting a dividing line. For Americans who have jobs and have benefitted from remote work over the past eight months, additional savings and low interest rates are providing a moment of financial opportunity,” said Realtor.com’s Senior Economist, George Ratiu.

For those who lost jobs, the expiration of enhanced paychecks combined with the end of unemployment insurance eligibility are creating a landscape of uncertainty and a looming crisis if nothing is done. Housing markets are mirroring this divided, K-shaped economy.  Along with a solution to COVID, housing accessibility and affordability will need to be near the top of the agenda for the incoming administration and legislature.”

Added First American Deputy Chief Economist Odeta Kushi: “October’s jobs report shows continued economic improvement. The path of the economic recovery “is beholden to the path of the virus, and COVID cases have been on the rise, indicating new restrictions may be ahead.”

Though nowhere near pre-pandemic numbers, jobless claims are dropping. California leads states in largest decline in decreases, according to DSNews.com.

The total number of new weekly unemployment insurance claims fell below the 1 million mark for the first time since March, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Initial jobless claims for the week ending August 8 totaled 963,000, down from an upwardly revised 1.19 million one week earlier. Continuing claims for the week ending August 1 totaled 15.48 million, down from 16.1 million in the prior week.

The largest increase in initial claims for the week ending August 1 was in Rhode Island with a relatively mild uptick of 87 new claims. The states that saw the largest decreases during that week were California (-22,610), Virginia (-19,048), Texas (-14,095), Florida (-13,176), and New Jersey (-11,489). California (-22,610), Virginia (-19,048), Texas (-14,095), Florida (-13,176), and New Jersey (-11,489).

About Author: Chuck Green

Chuck Green has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and others covering various industries, including real estate, business and banking, technology, and sports.

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