November 9, 2013

U.S. adds 204,000 jobs in October

‘Numerous shocks’ fail to deter the nation’s businesses from posting surprisingly strong employment numbers in the latest report.

By Christopher S. Rugaber
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke participates in a panel discussion at the International Monetary Fund in Washington on Friday. He spoke about new rules to close large insolvent banks without hurting the broader financial system. “Our continuing challenge is to make financial crises far less likely,” he said.

The Associated Press

The report showed that employers added an average of 202,000 jobs a month from August through October – up sharply from an average of 146,000 from May through July. And they added 45,000 more jobs in August and 15,000 more in September than the government previously estimated.

Private businesses added 212,000 jobs last month. That was the most since February. By contrast, federal government jobs fell by 12,000.

Many retailers are optimistic about consumers’ willingness to spend more during the holiday shopping season. Walmart is hiring 55,000 seasonal workers, up from 50,000 last year.

One troubling detail in the report: The percentage of Americans working or looking for work fell to a 35-year low.

That figure may have been temporarily worsened by the shutdown. Even so, it suggests many Americans are discouraged about their prospects of finding a job.

Nearly 4.1 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more. That figure has tripled since the recession began in December 2007. The long-term unemployed represent more than a third of the 11.3 million people out of work.

About 1.3 million of the long-term jobless will lose their unemployment benefits by year’s end unless Congress renews an emergency benefits program, according to the National Employment Law Project. The emergency program provides up to 37 additional weeks of aid in most states on top of the 26 weeks that states typically dispense.

Edward Magda fears he will be one of them. He lives near Atlantic City, N.J., and has been a tile installer for 32 years. But the weak economy has left him unemployed.

In the past, he helped build hotels and resorts for Bally’s, Hilton and Revel. But now, “this is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Magda, 58.

About 800,000 government workers were furloughed for all or part of the Oct. 1-16 shutdown.

Many were counted as unemployed for the purposes of calculating the unemployment rate. But because they were ultimately paid for their time off, the furloughed workers were still counted as employed by a separate government survey that calculates job growth.

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