October's jobs report: A step in a long road to recovery

A job seeker meets with a recruiter from Macy's during the College of Marin's annual fall job fair in Kentfield, Calif.


Editor's Note: the definition of people who are not counted in the basic unemployment rate has been corrected.


After a tumultuous week, the markets kind of shrugged today as the government released October's unemployment numbers -- 80,000 jobs were created last month, taking it down a tenth of a percent to 9 percent. It was less than expected and it did little to improve the slog ahead. Below the headline number there was some positive news; the previous months reports were revised upward. Remember that August report where zero jobs were created? Well it turns out we created 100,000 jobs that month. But we're living in a country that needs to come up with a quarter-million jobs a month over a period of years if we're going to get a handle on unemployment.

One type of person who doesn't make the government's count is the man or woman who hasn't looked for work in more than four weeks. We talked with Steve Asher, a 49-year-old Brooklyn man who's been out of work for 13 months. His field is nonprofit arts management. He says his unemployment payments help him cover rent and food, but he's getting help from his family to pay for his utilities and anything extra. He sends out resumes every day. Asher says he needs to work, not just for the money, but for his sense of self-worth. He says he simply needs a place to go every day.

We also talked with Brett Hammond, chief economist at TIAA-CREF. He points out that the 5.9 million Americans who've been out of work for more than 27 weeks -- 42 percent of total unemployment figure -- is the highest since the Great Depression. So, he says rather than jumping for joy over even the slight signs of improvement today, it's really more like another step in the long marathon of recovery.

Hammond adds that two years ago, it looked like governments would be able to step up and replace business and consumer spending and drive economic growth. That worked for a while as China, U.S., Germany, and other stepped up. Now, the problem is that everyone's stuck. Germany's focused on how they're dealing with the euro crisis. China's overheating so they've cut back a bit on their economy. And here in the U.S., we face at least another year of unyielding political gridlock. It all overpowers anyone's ability to solve this problem and get those millions of Americans -- the ones who don't count -- back to work.


Also on today's show, Steve Asher's job search continues. And here are some numbers to think about: He's been out of work for 13 months and has 10 different resumes highlighting his different strengths. The idea that Asher needs 10 resumes in this job market lowers today's Daily Pulse.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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