October Jobs Report: Winners & Losers

by Dan Burrows | November 8, 2013 9:14 am

The government shutdown surprisingly didn’t hurt new job creation at all last month, as payrolls swelled far beyond economists’ forecasts, according to the latest jobs report.

Non-farm payrolls expanded by an unexpectedly strong 204,000 in October, the Department of Labor said Friday[1], crushing economists’ average forecast for 120,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey, remained unchanged at 7.3%.

October’s jobs report was a welcome surprise and showed that job creation accelerated sharply this autumn, despite the 16-day shutdown of the federal government. Indeed, since July, the economy added an average of just 143,000 jobs a month.

However, as always, whether folks actually landed jobs greatly depended on the industry they were targeting.

Drilling down into the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ October Employment Situation Report[2] showed areas of strength in leisure and hospitality, retail trade, professional and technical services, manufacturing and healthcare.

One of the best industries for job-seekers was leisure and hospitality, which added 53,000 jobs in October. Restaurants and bars gained 29,000 jobs, equal to the sector’s average monthly gain over the last year.

Jobs in retail trade increased by 44,000 in October, well ahead of the average monthly gain of 31,000 over the past 12 months. Top places for employment included food and beverage stores, electronics and appliance stores, sporting goods and hobby stores, general merchandise stores, and building material and garden supply stores.

Professional and technical services continued to be decent place to look for work. The industry added 21,000 jobs last month and has grown by 213,000 over the past 12 months, according to the jobs report.

The manufacturing sector saw payrolls expand by 19,000 in October, led by motor vehicles and parts, wood products and furniture and related products. However, on a net basis, manufacturing employment has changed little since February, the Labor Department said.

Employment in the healthcare industry increased 15,000 and has now averaged an additional 17,000 new jobs a month so far this year.

On the other side of the ledger, despite the big jobs gains in the retail sector, clothing and accessories stores actually shed workers, with payrolls shrinking by 12,500.

Commercial banking was another area of weakness in October, suffering a decline in payrolls of 2,800.

Elsewhere, wholesale trade was a poor area for job-seekers last month, as payrolls shrunk by 5,400, led by a decline in non-durable goods. Other areas of employment weakness included rail transportation, publishing, waste management and repair and maintenance services.

  1. Department of Labor said Friday: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm
  2. October Employment Situation Report: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

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