Economy Watch: Economy Creates Middling Number of Jobs in October

Total U.S. payroll employment rose by 161,000 in October.

Total U.S. payroll employment rose by 161,000 in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. Not a bad performance, but not a stellar one either, especially when compared with last year. So far in 2016, employment growth has averaged 181,000 per month, while in 2015, the increase averaged 229,000 each month.

Even so, there was job growth in October in some industries that drive office and other space absorption. For the month, employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, as well as financial activities, both categories important to the office market. Hiring in healthcare continued to grow as well.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 43,000 in October, and has risen by 542,000 in the last 12 months. Employment in financial activities was up 14,000 for the month. Healthcare job growth in October added 31,000 positions; over the last 12 months, the industry, which is taking more former retail space than it used to, has hired a net of 415,000 people.

Employment in other major industries, including mining (which includes the oil industry) construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, didn’t change much in October. Neither did government hiring at all levels.

The headline unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in October, compared with 5 percent a month ago and 5 percent a year ago, according to the BLS. The bureau’s more comprehensive U-6 unemployment rate was 9.5 percent for the month. A year ago, the U-6 was 9.8 percent.

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