October Unemployment Rate Up Slightly

November 1, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The nation's unemployment rate ticked up slightly in October as the economy continued to shed jobs.

According to the US Department of Labor (DoL), the October jobless rate was 5.7% – up from September’s 5.6%.

The number of nonfarm workers dropped by 5,000 during the month – worse than predicted by most analysts, whose projections had ranged from no change to a gain of 7,000 jobs.  Still, several areas of the economy added jobs including finance, insurance and real estate (34,000 jobs) in October, the DoL said.

More Jobless

The DoL revised up the payroll numbers for the previous two months. It reported a job loss of 13,000 in September versus the 43,000 drop first reported, and it said August payrolls climbed 123,000 compared to the 107,000 rise in the original report.

Within the payroll report, average hourly earnings rose a mild 0.2% in October to $14.89, matching September’s 0.2% rise, while the average length of the workweek slipped somewhat to 34.1 hours in October from September’s 34.2.

The October report followed September’s performance in which the nation’s jobless rate fell to a five-month low ( See Unemployment Does A Surprise Dip, But ..).

Savings Rates

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said that Americans’ incomes, which includes wages, interest and government benefits, grew by 0.4% in September, on top of a 0.3% increase the month before.  However, that was lower than the 0.5% increase expected.

Combined with a 0.4% drip in spending, which was the biggest drop since November 2001, the nation’s personal savings rate – the percentage of personal income left over after taxes and spending – rose to its highest level since June, 4.2%.  That was up noticeably from the 3.4% rate in August.