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Podcast: The October Employment Report and What It Means for the Economy

I’m Keri Fulton and I’m here with Chad Stone, the Center’s Chief Economist, to discuss the jobs report for October.

1. Chad, today’s jobs report seems to have generated some excitement for the first time in a while with the economy generating more jobs than expected. Is the excitement justified?

There was some good news in today’s report. The private sector has generated jobs every month this year, including 159,000 jobs in October. For the year, we’ve seen over a million new private sector jobs created. But we don’t want to get carried away – we don’t want to forget that a strong recovery is where we are seeing 200,000 to 300,000 jobs a month being created and when we are seeing the unemployment rate come down.

2. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.6 percent didn’t it ?

It did. And there was other disappointing news in the household survey. The headline job creation numbers come from a survey that asks businesses how many employees they have on their payrolls. The unemployment rate comes from a different survey that asks people: “Are you working or looking for work?” The two don’t always agree and they sure didn’t this month. The household survey shows falling employment and people leaving the labor force. Job opportunities really remain scarce.

3. This week the Federal Reserve announced that it was taking action to try to stimulate a weak economy. How does that decision look in terms of today’s jobs report?

The Feds decision was the right decision when they made it on Wednesday and today’s jobs report doesn’t change that. The Fed was concerned about slow growth and an unacceptably high unemployment rate, and the unemployment rate didn’t budge in October. Today’s report upgrades the pace of job creation from anemic to moderate, but we have a very long way to go before we would call it strong.

4. What should Congress be doing to help the unemployed?

One of the most important things for Congress to do when it comes back in two weeks is to renew the federal emergency unemployment insurance measures scheduled to expire at the end of this month. If they don’t renew those measures, millions of unemployed workers who run out their 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits will be out in the cold without a paycheck and without an unemployment insurance benefit. That’s obviously bad for them and their families. But the loss of consumer spending supported by unemployment insurance benefits will be bad for the economy and will be a drag on job creation in the coming year as well.

Thanks for joining me, Chad.