Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 2001

November 3, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 92,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate fell to 4.4%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Reuters reports that the 4.4% unemployment rate is the lowest since May 2001, when the rate was 4.3%. The addition of 92,000 jobs for the month was lower than the 125,000 forecast by Wall Street analysts, according to Reuters.

BLS revised its numbers up for jobs added in August and September. According to a BLS news release, the number of jobs added in August was 230,000 versus the previously reported 128,000 (See Job Growth Modest, Unemployment Down in August ) and job growth in September was actually 148,000 – well above the 51,000 previously reported (See Job Growth Nearly Stagnant, Unemployment Drops ).

Professional and business services employment grew by 43,000 in October, with a gain in management and technical consulting services of 12,000 and in business support services of 6,000, according to BLS data.  Employment in temporary help services was little changed over the month.

Health care employment continued its growth with a gain of 23,000 in October, BLS said. Over the year, health care employment has increased by 302,000. 

In leisure and hospitality, food services and drinking places added 27,000 jobs in October. Also, in the goods-producing sector, mining employment grew by 5,000 during the month. Over the last 12 months, mining has added 54,000 jobs. Within financial activities, commercial banks added 5,000 jobs in October.

Both wholesale and retail trade employment were little changed in October.

Construction lost 26,000 jobs in October as employment declines in residential specialty trade contractors (-31,000) more than offset gains in non-residential specialty trades. Manufacturing lost 39,000 jobs in October. 

BLS noted that October was the final month in which special questions were asked of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.