WASHINGTON — The nation's unemployment rate edged up to 6% in October--the first increase in 13 months--despite the creation of more than 500,000 jobs and significant growth in manufacturing employment, the government said today.
(California's unemployment rate rose 0.2 of a percentage point to 6% in October to equal the national mark, officials said, while the jobless rate for Los Angeles County fell by 0.1 of a percentage point to 5.9%.)
The Labor Department's nationwide survey of households showed 415,000 more Americans at work last month than in September. But the civilian labor force grew 500,000, raising the jobless rate 0.1 of a percentage point.
September's 5.9% rate had been the lowest in nearly eight years.
Both overall employment and the size of the labor force had dropped in September as hundreds of thousands of students returned to school after summer vacations. It was that drop that largely accounted for September's 0.1 of a percentage point drop from the 6% rate of July and August.
The October survey was taken in the second week of the month, just before the 508-point drop recorded in the Dow Jones industrial stocks index on Oct. 19. Most private economists say the effects of recent market activity won't be reflected in unemployment calculations for a few months.
A separate department survey of business payrolls showed that 550,000 jobs were created in October, including 65,000 on factory assembly lines. That followed a gain of 55,000 manufacturing jobs in the preceding month.
Since June, factory employment has grown by 220,000 jobs, providing evidence that manufacturers, left behind through most of the recovery, which at 59 months is the nation's longest, are finally catching up.
All-Time High in 3 Industries
The commissioner of labor statistics, Janet L. Norwood, told the congressional Joint Economic Committee that payroll employment rose in more than 60% of the nation's industries. The largest gains, she said, were in metal products, machinery and electrical equipment.
"Indeed," she said, "October employment in three manufacturing industries--furniture, rubber and plastics, and printing and publishing--reached an all-time high."
Construction employment, adjusted for seasonal variations, rebounded in October, with 40,000 new jobs after a drop of 30,000 in September.
At 5 million, however, construction employment is no higher than it was last spring.
The service sectors of the economy resumed their role as the biggest job creator after only moderate growth in September.
Services were responsible for 80% of the 550,000 payroll-job increase, with 150,000 new jobs in business and hospital services and 70,000 in retail trade.
In addition, the number of workers on local government payrolls climbed 165,000. But 65,000 of those were teachers and other school workers returning to work after strikes.
Overall, the 415,000 increase in the number of working Americans last month more than offset a decline of 309,000 in September.