“Disappointing” hiring figures for October were offset by upward revisions of August and September job growth, the Labor Department said Friday in its employment report. The economy added 80,000 jobs last month, the fewest in four months. Market expectations were for a gain of 90,000. The government did revise August and September’s data upward of 102,000 more jobs (55,000 in September and 47,000 in August).
The unemployment rate edged down to 9 percent from 9.1 percent in September. It was the first drop in the unemployment rate in four months.
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called the economy’s growth “frustratingly slow,” while the Fed projected that unemployment would not drop below 8 percent until 2013 at the earliest, a .7 percentage point higher than its June forecast. The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week dropped below 400,000 for only the third time this year, but analysts consider 375,000 to be the benchmark that signals sustained job growth.
The Fed also said that the U.S. economy will grow no more than 1.7 percent for 2011. Growth will range between 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent next year. This is a full percentage point revision lower than the Fed’s projections in June. The economy needs to expand at an annual rate of at least 2.5 percent over a sustained period and add roughly 125,000 jobs to keep unemployment from rising, analysts say.
Republicans were quick to criticize President Obama over the report. “While President Obama spent October on the campaign trail, the American people endured another month of unacceptably high unemployment," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said in an email statement issued shortly after the report was released. "Today's jobs numbers underscore the devastating toll President Obama's record of over-regulation, tax threats and reckless spending has taken on the American economy."
The partisan political climate was doing nothing to fix the jobs situation, Bernanke said at this week’s press conference. “It would be more helpful if we had help from other parts of the government to create jobs,” he said.