Furloughed Government Workers Elevate Unemployment Rate to 7.3%

Furloughed Government Workers Elevate Unemployment Rate to 7.3%

11/08/2013 BY: CARRIE BAY

Some 204,000 Americans found work in October, the  Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning. Yet with the number of public employees counted as unemployed or temporarily laid off as a result of the federal government shutdown last month, the national unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent, up from 7.2 percent in September.

The uptick in the unemployment rate was largely expected in light of the number of workers impacted by the turmoil in the nation’s capital last month which turned the lights off in federal buildings across the country. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg were anticipating a jobless rate of 7.3 percent. Their expectations for activity by U.S. employers, however, were markedly off base. The economic group polled forecast new job growth for the month to come in at just 120,000.

Job gains for both August and September were revised upward, adding a combined 60,000 more to the workforce than previously reported. Friday’s report showed the change in nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +193,000 to +238,000, and the change for September was revised from +148,000 to +163,000.

The number of unemployed persons, at 11.3 million, changed little in October. The number of long-term unemployed—those jobless for 27 weeks or more—also held steady at 4.1 million. Those out of work for more than six and a half months accounted for 36.1 percent of the unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The number of long-term unemployed has declined by 954,000 since October 2012.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, also referred to as involuntary part-time workers, totaled 8.1 million in October. These individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

The civilian labor force was down by 720,000 in October. The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent over the month. At the same time, the employment-population ratio declined by 0.3 percentage point to 58.3 percent, partly reflecting the decline in federal government employment last month.

Stephen Bronars, senior economist with Welch Consulting, explained to ABC News that the labor force participation rate is the lowest it’s been in 35 years, largely because more and more people are deciding to leave the labor force rather than remain unemployed. “Some of this is due to the aging of the population, but participation should be increasing during a recovery as more people find work,” Bronars told the news outlet.

In October, government data shows 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, compared to 2.4 million (not seasonally adjusted) a year earlier. These individuals were not counted as part of the unemployed population in Friday’s report. There were not in the labor force, yet wanted and were available for work. They had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for a job in the four weeks preceding the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 815,000 discouraged workers in October, meaning they are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities, the Bureau of Labor Statistics explained.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of people filing new jobless claims fell to 336,000—a level which until this summer, had not been seen since January 2008.

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