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U.S. Economy Adds 171,000 Jobs in October, Topping Half a Million in Last 3 Months

| November 2, 2012

us unemployment october 2012

Click on the graph for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 10:08 a.m.

The economy added 171,000 jobs in October, exceeding economists’ expectation of 135,000, and figures for August and September were revised upward, adding 84,000 to previous tallies, for a total of 511,000 jobs in the last three months, the U.S. Labor Department reported this morning.

The unemployment rate edged back up to 7.9 percent, an indication of a large number of people returning to the labor force and being willing to look for work again. Nevertheless, the solid, sustained job gains (700,000 since July) point–finally–to a somewhat healthier recovery, while giving President Obama’s economic policies one final boost before Election Day.

The civilian labor force rose by close to 600,000 workers just in October, the highest single-month increase of the Obama years, bringing the labor force to 155.6 million, a record. The labor force participation rate also went up, to 63.8 percent, from 63.6 percent the month before, though that level is still well below the pre-recession level of 66 percent.

In another relatively positive sign, the number of people employed part time against their will–either because they could not find full-time work or because their hours were cut back–fell by 269,000, to 8.3 million, partially offsetting an increase of 582,000 in September. And the so-called U-6 unemployment rate, which adds all the unemployed, those employed part-time involuntarily, and those who have quit looking for work, edged down to 14.6 percent, from, 14.7 percent the two previous months, and 16 percent a year ago.

For all the somewhat better news workers and the Obama administration cans seize on, there’s plenty left for Mitt Romney’s campaign to seize on as well (as Romney is expected to later today): 12 million Americans remain unemployed, the uptick in the unemployment rate means that much of a longer slog before the economy returns to fuller employment, the pace of job growth is still only a little above that required to absorb the natural increase of workers every month, and average earnings slipped by one cent, to $23.58 an hour. Some 5 million people have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, and 2.4 million people were marginally attached to the labor force, meaning that they want to work, but haven;t looked for work in the past four weeks, and so were not counted among the unemployed.

And ironically for Obama, the increase in October’s unemployment rate was driven largely by the black unemployment rate, which rose almost a full percentage point–from 13.4 percent in September, to 14.3 percent in October. But some 98 percent of the black electorate supports Obama. The unemployment rate for whites was steady at 7 percent.

Most jobs gained during the recovery have been at the lower end of the wage scale, according to the National Employment Law Project. Click on the image for larger view.

Keep in mind as well that the majority of new jobs created in the recovery have been low-wage jobs, while inequality between wage-earners has grown.

In a report released in August, the New York-based National Employment Law Project found that during the recession, “employment losses occurred across the board, but were concentrated in mid-wage occupations. By contrast, in the recovery to date, employment growth has been concentrated in lower-wage occupations, which grew 2.7 times as fast as mid-wage and higher-wage occupations.” The report also concluded that “the unbalanced recession and recovery have meant that the long-term rise in inequality in the U.S. continues. The good jobs deficit is now deeper than it was at the start of the 21st century.”

Some highlights from the Labor Department’s unemployment report: Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in October, with gains in services to buildings and dwellings and in computer systems design. Health care added 31,000 jobs, retail added 36,000 jobs, tourism added 28,000, and construction added 17,000. Manufacturing, a previous strength in the recovery, was flat, as it has been since April. In the loss column, mining lost 9,000 jobs, and government lost 13,000 jobs (continuing a trend that has seen government losing more jobs than most sectors during the recovery, which has helped drag down the recovery). Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.

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27 Responses for “U.S. Economy Adds 171,000 Jobs in October, Topping Half a Million in Last 3 Months”

  1. The Truth says:


    Obama fudges unemployment numbers right Friday before election day. Is Obama doing this to take attention away from not releasing his college records to Trump? Find out next on Hannity.

    Back to reality, this is good news for everyone. We are seeing positive job growth consistently each and every month. We are on track for a better tomorrow. Obama is cutting the deficit each and every year and getting our country back on track. I am proud to be an American and I am proud to say that I voted for Obama in 2012.

    • Magnolia says:

      Truth, unemployment is higher now than when Bush left office and has not been this high since the Great Depression.

      Not a good reason to reelect a President.

  2. Flagler Citizen says:

    I am proud to say that I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 nor will I in 2012! Most economists agree that we need to create a minimum of 400,000 jobs PER MONTH, not 700,000 over the past four months. There has not been a change in the unemployment rate, other than those months where the figure was above 8%, since the President came in to office. Yes, he inherited the situation as he knew he was going to but, so did Reagan inheit a much worse situation and did not spend the first 3 years of his term bad-mouthing Jimmy Carter. The bottom line for me and a lot of people I know is the extent to which you want the Federal Goverment involved with your every day life. The more government, the more people involved with non-productive jobs, the more cost to all of us. Obama, in one of the debates mentioned that the governmnet wanted to create 100,000 teaching jobs; that is not the role of the federal goverment , that is the role of the States and we should, not have to pay for the cost of funding 50,000 jobs in NY and California, for example, when FL may be only getting 5,000 of those jobs. I’m more concerned about a smaller federal government and allow more of the decisions to be made on a State/local level.

  3. Anonymous says:

    WOW we add 171K jobs BUT the so-called unemployment rate gos up HMMMM??? Also ~Most jobs gained during the recovery have been at the lower end of the wage scale, according to the National Employment Law Project. Click on the image for larger view.~ This Republic is NOt back on track! It will not get on track with the anti growth Ds we have in DC. Come Tuesday we need to hope and pray for some real change in DC.

  4. Im glad there are more jobs. That’s 171k people with more hope. The problem is that there should have been more like 250k jobs at this point in the recovery. Why is it moving so slowly? it’s not because business isn’t trying its best. The question to answer is what is holding us back?

  5. A True American Says says:

    The Democrats are great at COOKING the books. The last four years are all lies. Tell me, has Flagler County employment risen in four years? PEOPLE GET OUT AND VOTE your FREEDOM depends on it….

  6. confidential says:

    If Obama could not create more jobs was do to GOP congressmen and senators who’s only goal and promise was to make Obama one term President, never mind jobs or the economy. When the statistics work in the GOP favor are good, when they work for DEM favor are manipulated….?
    All those anti federal government funded stimulus, please read and learn that with most until now including AIG that received 182 billion the largest chunk, they have almost refunded us all and we made so far over 15 billion interest on AIG alone while we still have 16% AIG ownership that means more gain to come:–finance.html

  7. Vanessa Cheesewright says:

    No spin necessary. It is terrible news, and these numbers are always suspect when algorithms can be changed to manipulate data. Do we know for sure how many of these are temporary holiday hiring jobs? The holiday season is starting earlier this year pushed by business. Christmas merchandise was already out along with Halloween’s. Nothing like the holiday season to raise people spirits and get them to justify spending, especially if they have a new found job.

  8. Stevie says:

    and 170,000 new jobless. More on welfare than jobs created during this Presidency. Personal Incomes falling. Debt increasing and targets over 20 trillion by 2016 if this trend continues. Willful ignorance is common among a large segment of our society and the lame stream media. Sheer lunacy to support the status quo.

  9. Maureen Vidal says:

    “Government does not create jobs.” ~Mitt Romney

  10. From Florida says:

    It would be nice if Flagler Live wasn’t so bias and brought true full information for both sides. We have enough bias papers.

  11. Yellowstone says:

    Guess what the President needs to do is magically ‘flip the switch’ and create a few million jobs overnight! Yep, it’s all his fault. Congress seems to think otherwise however.

    The House votes against any idea that we need jobs – so the President must be wrong in his thinking that we do. So blame the President.

    The House, instead, voted more than 33 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That would also create fewer jobs as well as take healthcare away from those that will otherwise not afford it. Ask yourself has does that help folks go to work? But it’s the President’s fault.

    Does any of this make sense to you?

    Do your homework. Read. Who really is the culprit here?

    The idea you have that one man, all by himself, single-handedly has suppressed jobs is utterly stupid.

    Take a moment and think. Is it in the best interest of our country to keep people from earning a living so they can pay their taxes? Think hard on that – it is complex for some of you.

    Is it better to continue to lower taxes on those who are supposed to be job creators but don’t. Who keep their money in foreign banks to avoid paying their share?

    Do your homework and go VOTE!

  12. No, they don’t Maureen – the best jobs are created by private industry. We don’t need a bigger government. Just less red tape for private industry.

  13. Jack stewart says:

    OMG that is too funny..just before elections… the democrats must really think the rest of us are real idiots…..I love it!

  14. Stevie says:

    Raising taxes increases poverty. Study the historical facts. Lowering taxes benefits everyone and really creates jobs.


  15. DWFerg says:

    The headline reads well–the Truth is we are no better off in November 2012 than we were when he assumed office in 2009. The media is complicit in trying(but failing to convince most Americans) that the economy is improving – It is NOT—–So keep on trying to foolus and we will continue to tune you OUT—Try that foe awhile and see where it leads !!!!

  16. Jerry Peters says:

    Liberals don’t comprehend the facts…

  17. Dorothea says:


    Having spent a long time reading Sowell’s missive denying that the trickle-down theory even exists or that whatever he called it was a failure, I ask you to spend a few minutes reading David Stockman’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. Stockman was the mastermind of Reagan’s failed trickle-down policy.

    Reagan’s economy tanked when he cut taxes and it didn’t recover until he (Reagan) raised taxes. Clinton raised taxes and the economy hummed. Bush cut taxes, fought two wars and instituted a drug plan on the credit card and once again the economy tanked.

    • Magnolia says:

      Dorothea, take a look at what John Kennedy said about lowering taxes when he was President.

    • Magnolia says:

      Dorothea, take a look at what John Kennedy said about lowering taxes when he was President

      You will be surprised.

      • Dorothea says:


        No, I am not surprised. The top tax rate when JFK took office was 91%. Lyndon Johnson signed the following tax rates into effect in 1964.

        reduced top marginal rate from 91% to 70%
        reduced corporate tax rate from 52% to 48%
        phased-in acceleration of corporate estimated tax payments (through 1970)
        created minimum standard deduction of $300 + $100/exemption (total $1,000 max)

  18. Stevie says:

    There are 194,000 more people are at work now than in January 2009, but our population has grown and there are now 8,822,000 more working-age people. There is another comparison that should also be made: “During his time in office, 14.7 million people were added to the food stamp rolls. Over that same time, only 194,000 [new] jobs were created — thus 75 people went on food stamps for every one that found a job.” This is from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

    • Riley says:

      @ Stevie. Who would believe anything a republican said, especially Jeff Sessions. This comes from someone from Alabama, need I say more.

      @Jerry. Republicans want it all, but don’t want to pay for it.

      @Maureen. Romney created jobs in China.

  19. Ben Blakely says:

    There are now FEWER Americans employed now than when Baroke obama came into office.

    Unemployment has ticked up again.

    Actual unemployment is 14%

    obama has proved himself to be helpless and clueless to improve the economy and increase jobs.

  20. confidential says:

    Lowering taxes on the wealthy does not create jobs! Read “the covered up Congressional Research Service Report”, below.
    Not only the GOP has work hard in several states like Ohio and Florida trying to suppress voters rights like here cutting early voting time in half, while we have voters making up to 6 hours lines to vote early, but also trying to suppress reports and statistics that proof well founded against their platform policies to be implemented if they win:

  21. Stevie Nicks says:

    Here is what the home town folks think of Obama jobs numbers. See the video from ABC news.

    Anyone who believes that lower taxes and less government don’t stimulate economic growth, create many jobs, and deliver prosperity to all must be tripping on some used LSD from the 60’s. The liberal agenda is unraveling in New York, Chicago, California and all points in between.

    [Correction: this is not an ABC News video; it depicts a protest that took place in front of a local ABC affiliate’s studio.–FL]

  22. Gia says:

    People are so naive to believe all that propaganda. For sure unemployment will stay high till the end of next year at least.

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