Economic Snapshot: Employment and job openings hold steady

The unemployment rate, which is measured in October, remained unchanged this month. Job openings, which are measured in September, were also unchanged. However, while the number of job openings largely held steady year-over-year, the unemployment rate has seen an annual decline.

Employment situation

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 271,000 in October and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.0 percent.

Over the past 12 months, employment growth has averaged 230,000 jobs per month. In the same period, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.1 million and 0.7 percent, respectively.

The number of long-term unemployed was essentially unchanged at 2.1 million in October and has shown little movement since June. These individuals accounted for 26.8 percent of the unemployed this month.

The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons decreased by 269,000 to 5.8 million in October. Over the past 12 months, the number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons has declined by 1.2 million.

There were 1.9 persons marginally attached to the labor force in October, down by 276,000 from the previous year. Among the marginally attached, there were 665,000 discouraged workers, little changed from October 2014.


The number of job openings was little changed at 5.5 million in September and the job openings rate was 3.7 percent.

The number of job openings increased over the 12 months ending in September for total nonfarm and total private, and was little changed for government. Job openings rose over the year for several industries and increased in all four regions.

The number of hires was 5.0 million in September and the hires rate was 3.5 percent. Over the 12 months ending in September, the number of hires was little changed from total nonfarm, total private and government.

There were 4.8 million total separations in September, little changed from August. Within separations, there were 2.7 million quits in September. The number of quits has held between 2.7 million and 2.8 million for the past 13 months, after a steady increase post-recession. The quits rate in September remained unchanged at 1.9 percent, the sixth consecutive month for this rate.

Small business optimism

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index was unchanged in October. The index rose 0.2 points in September and 0.5 points in August.

Although the labor market components posted minor declines, they held at historically strong levels but this time owners reported no net growth in employment, a significant decline from reports in the previous four months.

Owners added a net 0.0 workers per firm in recent months. Fifty-five percent reported hire or trying to hire, up 2.0 points from the last reading, but 48 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-seven percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, unchanged from September.

A seasonally adjusted 11 percent of owners plan to create new jobs, down 1.0 point. A seasonally adjusted net 21 of owners reported raising worker compensation, down 2.0 points from the past few months.

The percent of owners citing the difficult of finding qualified workers as their most important business problem fell 3.0 points to 13 percent, but is still third on the list of problems, behind taxes and regulation and red tape.

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