The nation’s unemployment rate continued to drop in October, falling to 6.9 percent as employment rose by 638,000. In September, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, a full percentage point higher.
“These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
The agency said that “notable job gains occurred” in a range of categories, from leisure and hospitality to professional and business services to retail trade and construction. However, employment in government declined.
The number of unemployed people fell in October by 1.5 million to 11.1 million.
Although the unemployment rate has declined for six straight months, the current unemployment rate and the number of unemployed people are nearly twice their February levels (3.5 percent and 5.8 million, respectively).
In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 1.2 million to 3.6 million. That puts nearly one-third of the unemployed in that category, the U.S. agency reported.
On the plus side, the number of unemployed people who have been jobless for 15 to 26 weeks decreased by 2.3 million to 2.6 million, and the number of people jobless five to 14 weeks decreased by 457,000 to 2.3 million.
The number of persons employed part-time “for economic reasons” increased by 383,000 to 6.7 million. That includes people who are working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.
Among individual sectors, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 271,000 jobs. In addition, the professional and business services sector added 208,000 jobs.
The agency also reported that retail trade added 104,000 jobs, with almost one-third of the gain in electronics and appliance stores.
“The October employment report has delivered welcome and substantially better-than-expected news,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com senior economic analyst. “The full 1 percent drop in the jobless rate takes it back down to where it stood in November 2013.”
He added that “more than the usual examination of the payrolls data is required because private employment expanded by 942,000 while government jobs dropped by 268,000, most of which is because of the end of federal Census employment.”
Hamrick added that “with the unemployment rate now below 7 percent, it is outperforming where the Federal Reserve’s projections suggested it would be by the end of the year. The central bank has said it is prioritizing healing of the job market. That healing appears to have made progress in October.”
Last month, the U.S. agency reported that the nation’s economy added 661,000 jobs in September as the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent, down from 8.4 percent in August. The agency’s figures are drawn from two monthly surveys