October Jobless Rate Falls to 4.1 Percent; 252,000 Jobs Created

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 4.1 percent in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Businesses claimed to create a net of 252,000 new jobs last month, a separate survey said, but much of that came from restoring jobs lost to hurricanes. Governments added 9,000, all in local schools and the federal government.

The figures do not reflect the full impact of the hurricanes, as jobless numbers for the states don’t come out until later in November and BLS doesn’t survey Puerto Rico. But private surveys there, in data before two of the hurricanes smashed the commonwealth to smithereens, showed a jobless rate triple that of the mainland U.S.

On the mainland, the number of jobless declined by 281,000, to 6.52 million, BLS said. But other statistics were not as positive.

One of every four jobless workers has been out more than 26 weeks, meaning they’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits. The biggest job gains were in the lowest-paying sectors of the economy, all as usual in services: +88,500 in bars and restaurants, which is the lowest of all, followed by +22,000 jobs in health care and the hiring of 18,000 more temps.

“The black unemployment rate is at 7.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent for whites,” Economic Policy Institute analyst Heidi Shierholz added in a tweet. “As usual, the black rate is around twice as high. There are huge disparities in our labor market.”

Factories added 24,000 jobs in October, mostly in computers and electronics (+4,700), fabricated metals such as steel (+4,000), chemicals (+4,000 each) and cars (+3,400). There were 12.481 million factory workers in October, and 501,000 jobless factory workers (3.2 percent).

Construction firms added 11,000 jobs in October, to 6.93 million, all in building new homes and at specialty trade contractors. There were 418,000 jobless construction workers (4.5 percent). But construction union presidents say the official figures understate joblessness in their industry, since a worker toiling for one day during the survey week is counted as working for the entire month.

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Biden His Time

On May 2, 2011, hours before I underwent brain surgery, news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed by Navy Seals. “At least I outlived you, you son of a bitch!”

Sitting up, I had accidentally pulled several EEG leads loose from my partially shaved head. An alarm sounded. I apologized to the responding nurses.

I described that moment to Beau Biden a year later, after he led a group of veterans marching in a Fayetteville, North Carolina voter registration drive.

I was still catching my breath and wiping my brow when the Vice President’s son walked over and asked if I was doing alright.

“Yes sir, I’m fine, thank you.” Sketching a salute with my walking stick, I said, “We’ve got other things in common besides we’re both voting for your dad.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes sir. We both served in Iraq—and we both battled brain illness afterwards.”

“And here we still are.” Biden smiled and the genuineness of his expression touched my heart.

I offered a quick account of my medical marathon, including the night bin Laden’s death cheered me up, then identified myself as a 2012 Obama organizing fellowship selectee. I expressed my regret that due to medical setbacks I wasn’t able to do more for the campaign.

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The Time to Act is NOW

The Time to Act is NOW