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Unemployment edges back up to 7.3% in October

In what was the first such increase since last May, national unemployment figures crept back up by a hair to 7.3% in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

In terms of job gains, leisure and hospitality, retail, professional and technical services, manufacturing and healthcare experienced the most significant progress.

Retail employment was up 44,000, higher than the average monthly gain of 31,000 over the past 12 months. Of that number, 7,000 were attributed to building material and garden supply stores, with food and beverage stores receiving the lion's share of gains (12,000).

According to calculations from the National Retail Federation, retail gained 37,600 jobs in October, as well as 295,000 year-over-year (a 2.4% increase). 

“The latest jobs report, which came in stronger than anticipated, provides some positive indication that the economy and employment situation are steadily improving,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “The timing couldn’t be better for retailers and consumers, who are busy preparing for the holiday shopping season.”

Meanwhile, manufacturing added 19,000 jobs in October, most significantly in motor vehicles and parts (+6,000).

Though total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 204,000, the amount of workers on temporary layoff increased by 448,000 among the unemployed. This includes some furloughed federal employees, though the BLS states that there was no discernible impact from the government shutdown.

Meanwhile, there was little movement in terms of the long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or longer). At 4.1 million, they accounted for 36.1% of the unemployed, a number that has declined by nearly 1 million over the past year.

September's rate of 7.2%, down from August's 7.3%, represented a five-year low in unemployment.

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