U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October and hiring was stronger over the previous two months than first thought, but the outlook remains dim for many young African-Americans still struggling to find work.
Friday’s latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed to a slowly improving jobs picture that could enhance President Barack Obama’s re-election chances. The unemployment rate inched up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September as more workers resumed job hunts.
But Black unemployment continued to rise, jumping from 13.4 to 14.3 percent and African-American teen joblessness rose to a dramatic high of 40.5 percent.
Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month, up from 67,000 a month from April through June.
“While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, says in a statement just released by the White House.
Still, Obama will face voters in Tuesday’s election with the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent since President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The rate ticked up because more Americans without jobs started looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.
Most of the details in the report were positive. The government revised the jobs figures to show that 84,000 more jobs were added than previously estimated.
The gains in October were widespread across most industries. And the percentage of Americans working or looking for work rose for the second straight month.
The economy has added jobs for 25 straight months. There are now 580,000 more jobs than when Obama took office.
“Over the last 12 months, the economy has added a total of 2.1 million jobs, as compared to 1.9 million over the preceding 12 months,” Krueger said.
But there were also signs of the economy’s ongoing weakness. Average hourly pay dipped a penny to $23.58. And the number of unemployed increased 170,000 to 12.3 million.
The department said Hurricane Sandy had no noticeable impact on the report.