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Jobs: U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs

Jaclyn Giovis Nov 4, 2010

There’s finally some good news on the U.S. jobs front – unless, of course, you’re among the 14.6 million Americans that remain jobless.

According to Friday’s Labor Department report, the economy added 151,000 jobs in October, beating most analysts’ predictions by a stretch.

Still, the unemployment rate didn’t budge. It remains at 9.6 percent.

Private sector employment rose by 159,000 over the month, the department said.

The biggest gains came from temporary jobs, which grew by 35,000.

Temporary employment may sound like less-than-amazing news, but there’s a silver lining: growth of temporary hires is an early indicator for permanent job growth.

Companies tend to hire full-time employees later – if the economy strengthens, said Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.

“It could be a good sign the economy is entering a second re-acceleration phase,” Low said.

Analysts say another positive sign is a longer work week.

The average workweek for all employees on private payrolls increased by 0.1 hour in October to 34.3 hours, the department said.

Now a fraction of hour – mathematically less than ten minutes per worker, may sound like peanuts. But over the entire American economy, it could be seen as a big deal.

“It would be one more sign that the people who are working are working longer,” said Beth Ann Bovino, senior economist at Standard & Poors. “It’s just nice to see a little bit of a bump.”

Health care continued be a bright spot on the larger employment picture, growing by 24,000 jobs in October. Retail employment rose by 28,000, including increases at automobile dealers and in electronics and appliance stores. Meanwhile, finance and construction jobs remain stagnant and cuts to manufacturing jobs continue.

The jobs report comes on the heels of two major events: the election, which created a divided government in Washington, and a major decision by the Federal Reserve to buy long term government bonds — the central bank’s rather unconventional answer to jump starting the U.S. economy.

“An encouraging jobs report doesn’t make a difference if you’re still one of the millions of people looking for work,” said President Barack Obama, in a press conference Friday. “And I won’t be satisfied until everybody who is looking for a job can find one.”

Be sure to check out Marketplace’s newest job tool The Future-Jobs-O-Matic.

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