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Private sector adds 184K jobs, but jobless rate inches upward

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Private-sector employers added 184,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in October, while the national unemployment rate nudged up to 7.9 percent, from 7.8 percent, in September, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

“Considering businesses have been so cautious in hiring and spending with their worries about the fiscal cliff lately, this number is pretty impressive,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc., in Holland, Pa. “Since businesses were so cautious in hiring and they still hired 184,000 people, imagine how many people they would have hired in October if they had no concerns about the fiscal cliff.”

Labor also improved August and September’s poor job numbers, noting 84,000 more jobs were created throughout those months than it originally reported, for a revised two-month employment gain of 340,000 jobs.

With those revisions, employment growth has averaged 157,000 jobs per month for 2012 — narrowly outpacing last year’s average gain of 153,000 jobs per month, Labor said.

But Naroff said he expects that pace to spike to nearly 250,000 jobs a month in the first half of 2013, since “businesses will be hiring at normal pace — which arguably may only be a slightly better pace of 175,000 jobs — but then they will also make up for the hiring they didn’t do in the last four months of 2012.”

“As long as whoever is in office next year doesn’t drive the economic car off the fiscal cliff, then we will see businesses making up for lost ground in hiring,” Naroff said.

While small companies showed more caution toward hiring new workers in October, Naroff said there were signs of improved confidence among businesses with more than 500 employees, as an employment report released Thursday by Roseland-based Automatic Data Processing Inc. showed large companies led private-sector job growth after months of lagging behind small-business hiring.

“The fact that big businesses are hiring again, to me, is the clearest sign that this economy is picking up steam. It doesn’t take a lot of cautious CEOs of big businesses to keep employment from growing solidly, which we’ve all seen in the past few months of slow job growth,” said Naroff, whose firm produces the report with ADP.

According to Labor, the public sector shed 13,000 jobs across all levels of government in October, which more than offset the 10,000 jobs added in September and slightly decreased the total U.S. nonfarm employment gain to 171,000 jobs.

The goods-producing and service-providing sectors both increased payrolls last month, as the manufacturing sector added 13,000 jobs after several consecutive months of recording the largest single-sector job loss.

The traditionally low-wage hospitality and retail industries comprised the biggest slice of the monthly employment gain, adding a total of 64,400 jobs last month. High-paying sectors saw similar or weaker levels of job growth, like professional and business services, with 51,000 jobs; transportation and utilities, with 45,000 jobs; and education and health services, with 25,000 jobs.


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