October Jobs Report: Winners & Losers

by Dan Burrows | November 2, 2012 12:10 pm

The economy added another 171,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged, ticking up to 7.9% from 7.8%. But whether folks actually landed jobs was highly dependent on the industry in which they were looking.

Drilling down into the Department of Labor’s October Employment Situation[1] report reveals that civil servants and people in the mining business continued to get pink-slipped, while retail, restaurant and healthcare workers were the big beneficiaries of the latest gains in hiring.

The employment areas with the best job creation were professional and business services, which added 51,000 jobs in October. Services to buildings and dwellings were responsible for adding 13,000 new jobs, while computer systems design tacked on 7,000 positions. Employment in professional and business services has grown by 1.6 million since hitting a low point in September 2009, the Labor Department said.

The healthcare sector gained 31,000 jobs last month, led by an addition of 25,000 in ambulatory healthcare services and 6,000 new jobs created at hospitals. Over the last year, employment in the healthcare industry has risen by 296,000.

In another area of significant growth, retail trade added 36,000 jobs in October, led by 7,000 new positions in motor vehicles and parts dealers. An additional bright spot is furniture and home furnishings stores, which hired 4,000 new employees. The retail trade sector has now added more than 80,000 jobs over the last three months, with the bulk of the hiring coming from motor vehicles and parts dealers, as well as clothing and accessories stores, the Labor Department said.

Restaurants and hotels also did their part in putting people back to work, as employment in the leisure and hospitality industry continued to rise, adding another 28,000 jobs in October. The sector has now created more than 810,000 jobs since bottoming out in January 2010, the Labor Department said, with most of the hiring coming from the food services industry.

Another positive contribution to employment came from construction, which added 17,000 jobs last month, led by specialty trade contractors. Employment in manufacturing, meanwhile, was little changed in October — a trend that, on net, has been in place since April.

On the other side of the employment ledger, public sector jobs once again became more scarce last month, as government slashed 13,000 positions. The mining and logging industry was likewise a jobs loser, shedding 9,000 positions in October.

The employment picture in wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and financial activities was little changed in October versus September, the Labor Department said.

As for the superstorm that hit the Eastern U.S., Hurricane Sandy had no effect on the October figures, the Labor Department said, as the data were collected before the storm.

  1. October Employment Situation: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

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