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Job Growth Beats Forecasts; Unemployment Rate Is 7.9 Percent

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
November 2, 2012

The nation’s unemployment rate edged up to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

But private and public employers added 171,000 jobs to their payrolls — nearly 50,000 more than economists had expected.

So the news is somewhat mixed: While the jobless rate remained stuck near 8 percent, job growth was better than forecast.

We’ll have more from the report and reactions to it as the morning continues. Hit your refresh button to be sure you’re seeing our latest updates.

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. First Republican Reaction:

“Four years of persistently high unemployment and long-term joblessness might be the best President Obama can do – but it’s nowhere near what the American people can do if we get Washington out of their way,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says in a statement just released by his office.

Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Why Did The Jobless Rate Go Up?

When job growth is stronger than forecast but the unemployment rate still rises, economists look at whether more people joined the labor force — hopefully because many of them are optimistic about being able to find work.

According to BLS, “the civilian labor force rose by 578,000 to 155.6 million in October, and the labor force participation rate edged up to 63.8 percent [from 63.6 percent].” Meanwhile, “there were 813,000 discouraged workers in October, a decline of 154,000 from a year earlier.” Discouraged workers are those folks who aren’t looking for work “because they believe no jobs are available for them.”

Those figures may signal that the jobless rate stayed near 8 percent in part because of good news — that more Americans are feeling better about the economy and have decided to start looking for work. That increased the size of the labor force, though, and helped lift the jobless rate a tenth of a point.

Update at 8:40 a.m. ET. September Job Growth Revised Up:

There were 148,000 jobs added to payrolls in September, BLS now says. That’s up from the agency’s initial estimate of 114,000.

Our original post (from 7 a.m. ET). “Jobless Rate Likely Edged Up In October, Job Growth Was Likely Modest”:

The last major economic report before Election Day is due at 8:30 a.m. ET and economists say we should expect to hear that the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in October from September’s estimated 7.8 percent and that payrolls grew by just 125,000 jobs.

Whatever the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, the news is sure to be a hot topic on the campaign trail and among political pundits. As you’ve surely heard many times:

– Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says President Obama’s economic policies haven’t done enough to spur job growth and bring down unemployment.

– The president has been touting the slow job growth and gradual decline in unemployment since the jobless rate’s recent peak of 10 percent in October 2009. He says they’re signs the economy is on the right track.

They’re likely to hit those themes again today.

Meanwhile, some skeptics — such as former General Electric CEO Jack Welch — will be watching closely to see if the BLS report fits with their view of how the economy is doing.

We’ll update this post with the news after the report is released, and follow with highlights and reactions. Also check Planet Money for economic analysis and It’s All Politics for more on how the report might affect the campaign. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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