Posted by: Ed Tittel
It’s the first Friday of the month: time for the regular report on the preceding month’s employment numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (an arm of the US Department of Labor). And in a time where ups and down are often too much the norm, this report maintains a trend it’s shown for the past year and more. The private sector added 171,000 jobs in October, and the monthly average so far for 2012 has been 157,000 (it was 153,000 for 2011). If anything, the numbers are slightly ahead of the steady, monotonous, and vexing “slow growth mode” that’s persisted since the beginning of 2011. But at only 8.9% higher than that admittedly low average growth rate, it’s really nothing to crow about, either.
Where the IT/information sector is concerned, there’s not much news either: the summary reports that employment rates for this industry sector (plus wholesale, transportation and warehousing, financial, and government) “…showed little change over the [preceding] month.” So the hunker down mantra I’ve been repeating steadily for the past couple of years appears to be keeping its currency, and we’re not likely to see any dramatic changes any time soon, no matter which of the two presidential candidates finds himself scheduled to take possession of the White House early next year.
I did see at least one faint glimmer of hope in the latest employment numbers, though they could easily pre-sage a period during which “things must get worse before they can get better” — namely part-time workers and the category known as “persons marginally attached to the labor force” (those who are unemployed or under-employed). The number of part-time workers “for economic reasons” (aka “involuntary part-time workers” who take as many hours as they can get part-time when they can’t find and fill a full-time position) dropped by 269,000 to 8.3 million in October, helping to offset a big increase of 582,000 in September. This is one tangible and reasonably sized indicator that employers are at least adding more part-timers, even though the floodgates for increased permanent staff hiring may still be mostly closed. Let’s hope these numbers continue to bounce (as they almost always do in November, in anticipation of the holiday shopping season), and that permanent job hiring rates will increase next year, too.