Storm Construction Jobs Boost October Employment Gain

November 5, 2004 ( - Bolstered by a huge influx of post-hurricane construction work, the nation's employment picture brightened considerably in October with the addition of 337,000 new jobs.

The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported a slight bump up in the unemployment rate to 5.5% in October from September’s 5.4% – a function of an influx of workers jumping back into the market to look for work.

Friday’s data represented the largest influx of jobs since October and was more than twice as strong as the upwardly revised 139,000 positions that were created in September. August was also revised up to 198,000 instead of 128,000.

BLS officials pointed out that the 71,000-addition in construction jobs – the biggest since March 2000 – “reflected rebuilding and cleanup activity in the Southeast following the four hurricanes that struck the US in August and September,” according to Reuters. The construction industry has added 355,000 jobs since its most recent low in March 2003.   Most of the October employment gain in construction occurred among specialty trade contractors (54,000); employment also rose in construction of buildings (11,000), the BLS said.

Professional and business services employment rose by 97,000 in October, with temporary help services accounting for about half of the increase (48,000).   Since April 2003, temporary help services has added 397,000 jobs. In October, employment in architectural and engineering services rose by 8,000.


Employment in education and health services grew by 62,000 in October, with gains of 22,000 in educational services and 41,000 in health care and social assistance.   The large increase in health care and social assistance followed a relatively small gain in September (10,000).   Taken together, employment growth over the two months was in line with the trend over the past year.   October job gains occurred in ambulatory health care services (22,000), hospitals (6,000), and social assistance (11,000).

Financial activities employment increased by 17,000 over the month, and has risen by 113,000 since the beginning of the year. The securities, commodity contracts, and investments industry added 8,000 jobs in October, as did the credit intermediation industry. Within government, local education added 32,000 jobs in October and has increased by 124,000 over the past 12 months.


Manufacturing employment was about unchanged in October and has shown little change since May.   Manufacturing added 82,000 jobs over the February through May period. Retail trade employment was little changed overall in October (+21,000); its electronics and appliance stores component gained 7,000 jobs.   Retail trade has added 188,000 jobs since its recent low in December 2003.   Wholesale trade employment was about unchanged in October.