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U.S. Unemployment Ticks Up, Labor Force Participation Lowest Since '78

Gov't shutdown had no effect on total jobs.

U.S. employers added 204,000 jobs in October, nudging the unemployment rate to 7.3 percent, up from its previous posting of 7.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The U-6 unemployment rate, considered a broader measure of actual unemployment in the U.S., increased to 13.8 percent, up from 13.6 percent.

The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8 percent, down from its previous 63.2 percent, the worst showing since March 1978:

Contrary to earlier expectations, the 16-day partial government shutdown did not affect total jobs, according to government officials.

Industries that saw an uptick in jobs include leisure and hospitality, retail trade, professional and technical services, manufacturing, and health care.

“[T]he employment-population ratio declined by 0.3 percentage point to 58.3 percent,” the report reads.

Here’s unemployment broken up by group:

  • Men: 7.0 Percent (previous: 7.1 percent)
  • Adult women: 6.4 percent (previous: 6.2 percent)
  • Teenagers: 22.2 percent (previous: 21.4 percent)
  • Whites: 6.3 percent (previous: 6.3 percent)
  • Blacks: 13.1 percent (previous: 12.9 percent)
  • Hispanics: 9.1 percent (previous: 9.0 percent)
  • Asians (not seasonally adjusted): 5.2 percent (previous: 5.3 percent)

The number of people on long-term unemployment (i.e. those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more) held steady at 4.1 million. This number accounts for approximately 36.1 percent of total unemployed.

The number of persons “marginally attached” to the labor force in October also held steady at 2.3 million, little changed from the 2.4 million that posted at this time last year.

“These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey,” the government report notes.

It continues:

Among the marginally attached, there were 815,000 discouraged workers in October, essentially unchanged from a year earlier…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

FINAL THOUGHT: The unemployment rate would be 11.2 percent if labor force participation were the same as when the recession began in 2009.

Markets are poised to open lower:

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Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

This post has been updated.

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