Finally, A Jobs Report With Some Good News

There's some good news in the October jobs report.

For the first time since May, we’ve got a jobs report that may indicate we’re starting to recover from the jobs recession:

The United States economy added 151,000 jobs in October, a welcome change after four months of job losses but still not enough to make a dent in unemployment.

Private companies have been slowly growing their payrolls throughout 2010, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. This private job growth had been overwhelmed by the elimination of temporary Census Bureau jobs and layoffs by state and local governments during the summer and early fall, until October.

Private companies added 159,000 jobs in October, while governments cut 8,000 jobs in the month. The month was much stronger than expected — most forecasts were for a gain of 60,000 jobs, 80,000 of which were from private employers. The report also sharply revised the numbers for August and September. The August data was revised to reflect a loss of 1,000 jobs instead of 57,000, and September was revised to 41,000 losses instead of 95,000.

Given that the economy lost more than 5 percent of its payroll jobs since the recession began nearly three years ago, and given that the work force has been growing since then, the country still has a long way to go before its 14.8 million unemployed are put back to work. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.6 percent in October.

A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who are working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs and people who have given up looking for work, ticked down slightly to 17 percent from 17.1 percent in September.

The economy last added jobs in May, when more than 400,000 workers were hired by the federal government to help with the Census.

We’re going to need much stronger jobs growth, on the order of 200,000 to 250,000 jobs added per month, to really say that things are improving, and the unemployment rate is likely to actually increase in coming months if people who had previously given up start looking for jobs again. However, this report is much better than anything we’ve seen all summer and, hopefully, an indication that the employment market is getting back on track.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gerry W. says:

    Yep, I see big improvements in my town……….

  2. Andy says:

    Almost all the jobs were in health care and education….

  3. ponce says:

    Wow, the new Republican House majority is fixing the Democrat’s mess already.

  4. Brian Knapp says:

    ponce beat me to it.

  5. john personna says:

    I like this graph:

    We are almost a year past “the bottom” but we haven’t got a lot of “virt” in the recovery.

  6. john personna says:
  7. Gerry W. says:


    The second graph is what I have looked at for years as a reference. If you look over 20 years or so, you can look at a trend. In the 70’s it was inflation, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment. In the 80’s and for over 20 years a non inflationary recovery and lower unemployment, but it ended under Bush. Now, we have to ask, just how the country needs to move forward and create economic growth.

  8. john personna says:

    I’m one of those technologists who sees growth and jobs coming out of successive waves of technology. I rode several in “computers” including medical devices, industrial devices, corporate automation, the web. If I wanted to keep going, it would be phone work at this point.

    But, I’m not an Industrial Policy type. I think it is much better to remove special favors and protections for existing industries and then let innovators find the Next Big Thing. I’d open cable TV to open competition, reduce copyright term, perhaps eliminate software and business process patents, and then clean out all the tax credits favoring individual industries.

    I might like a small but even tariff on all imported goods. We still do collect tariffs, you know, we just mess with people. We keep out that tasty cane sugar for instance.

    I’d hope the small/even tariff would satisfy globalization concerns without being so large as to trigger trade wars. Something five percent or smaller perhaps.

  9. john personna says:

    BTW, it kind of surprises people that I love technology while thinking R&D tax credits are BS.

    IMO the credits go to too many people faking it, and real R&D types will do the work anyway.

  10. Brett says:

    The important thing to hear is that there was job growth. That was one of the problems from 2001-2002 to 2007. There weren’t a lot of jobs being destroyed (which is why unemployment wasn’t too bad), but actual job growth was pretty anemic.

    IMO the credits go to too many people faking it, and real R&D types will do the work anyway.

    Some of that is undoubtedly true, but it’s also true that a lot of this technology depends heavily on economies-of-scale in production, as well as a good deal of research investment money. If you’ve got other states that are willing to throw that kind of money and resources at it (I’m looking at China here), then they frequently get a major headstart on the new business as long as they have the technology and know-how to do (and since the Chinese government is trying to steal whatever trade secrets they can get their hands on, the former is often not a problem).

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    Obviously, that number of new jobs is good news. However, I do think we should recall that’s roughly the rate of job growth necessary to keep up with the natural increase. At that rate we’ll never put the people who lost their jobs during the recession back to work and 150,000 is about as well as we’ve done over the last ten years.

  12. john personna says:

    You know Brett, if you go to mutual fund forums you will hear retirees agreeing on the need to buy emerging market funds. You could probably plot the “emerging” interest over the last decade. In part is is chasing bull markets, but in part it is an expectation by those middle-and-above class Americans that they better fund Asian R&D.

    I don’t think our stupid tax credit is enough to offset the bigger trends.

  13. mantis says:

    Now, we have to ask, just how the country needs to move forward and create economic growth.

    More bubbles!

  14. Oh, ok. From the headline I thought you were going to recount the loss of jobs by a number of Congressional incumbents. Oh well.