The Labor Department has spoken: U.S. payrolls rose by 80,000 in October and the unemployment rate retreated to 9 per cent from 9.1 per cent.
Is this good news? Clearly, the trend is moving in the right direction. Private sector employment grew by 104,000 last month and the previous two months saw total employment revised higher by 102,000 jobs. What's more, the decrease in the unemployment rate hadn't been anticipated by most economists, meaning that it comes as a positive surprise.
But as far as good news goes, this report is only so-so. Economists had actually been expecting more robust gains in overall employment last month, along with better growth in private sector employment, so the report is disappointing at that level. At the same time, after factoring in population growth and the fact that millions of Americans are unemployed, October's gains fail to make much of a dent in an overall grim labour market.