October’s Employment Disappoints, Previous 2 Months Revised Down 100K+

Craig Bannister | November 3, 2023
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Total nonfarm payroll employment rose less than expected in October, even though September’s total was revised downward, and the unemployment rate inched up, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday.

At 3.9%, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is at its highest level in nearly two years and up from 3.8% in September. The workforce participation rate dipped from 62.8% to 62.7%.

Meanwhile, total nonfarm payroll employment rose a weaker-then-expected 150,000 in October, despite a 39,000 job downward revision of September’s total. August was also revised down, by 62,000 jobs, in the latest report. Due to these revisions, the employment numbers over the past two months are more than a hundred thousand less than the BLS initially reported.

Job gains were fueled by increases in the health care, government, and various social assistance sectors, while employment declined in manufacturing.

The number of permanent job losers increased by 164,000 over the month, while the number of people working part-time for economic reasons increased from 4.1 million to 4.3 million.

Unemployment rates rose for all major demographics, except adult men:

  • Adult men (3.7%, down 0.1 percentage points).
  • Adult women (3.3%, up 0.2).
  • Teenagers (13.2%, up 0.6).
  • Whites (3.5%, up 0.1).
  • Blacks (5.8%, up 0.1).
  • Asians (3.1%, up 0.3).
  • Hispanics (4.8%, up 0.2).


October’s 150,000 increase in nonfarm payroll is far below the average monthly gain of 258,000 over the prior 12 months.

Health care added 58,000 jobs in October, with employment continuing to trend up in ambulatory health care services (+32,000), hospitals (+18,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+8,000). Employment in government increased by 51,000 in October. Monthly job growth in government had averaged 50,000 in the prior 12 months. In October, employment in local government (+38,000) continued to rise in October.

Employment in manufacturing decreased by 35,000 in October, reflecting a decline of 33,000 in motor vehicles and parts that was largely due to strike activity.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 0.2%. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.1%.

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

Unemployment Rate Graph