Most measures of labor market ‘improved significantly’

By WRAL TechWire

November 5, 2021

RALEIGH – The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly report today on the employment situation in the country, finding that 531,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were added across the country in the month of October.

report from the North Carolina Department of Commerce earlier this week tracked the growth of jobs across the state for the month of September, and an October update will come later this month.

“Most measures of the nation’s labor market improved significantly in October,” said Dr. Michael Walden, an economist and the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University.  “Jobs at business establishments rose by over 500,000 – a strong number.”

Most sectors of the economy added jobs, noted Walden, who is also a contributor to WRAL TechWire.

“However even with these gains, the nation’s job total is still 4 million less than before the pandemic,” said Walden.  “The one disappointment was the unchanged labor force participation rate, which measures the number of people actively in the labor force (either employed or looking for work) as a percentage of the adult population.”

That suggests, said Walden, that there are still a large number of potential workers who are not participating in the workforce, whether by choice or by necessity.

Still, the US service sector expanded in October.  And the unemployment rate is down.  Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 4.6% in October, down from 4.8% in September.

Those figures are “a good sign and starting point for a recovery,” said Dr. Henry C. McKoy, Jr., the lead entrepreneurship faculty and Director of Entrepreneurship at NC Central University in the School of Business, and a former assistant secretary of commerce at the North Carolina Department of Commerce from 2010-2012.  “However, there is still a mismatch beween the outstanding jobs and the unemployment rate.  But the rate is going down, so that is a good thing for an overall economy.”