The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest numbers for U.S. employment, which showed that the economy generated 171,000 jobs last month - much higher than analysts had expected - while the unemployment rate remained essentially the same, ticking up a tenth of a percentage point to 7.9 percent.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the numbers reflect a growing number of Americans who are actively looking for work, which suggests the economy is still making a slow and steady recovery out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The numbers came in much higher than even the most positive forecasts, beating the estimates of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires who expected a gain of 125,000 jobs and the jobless rate to tick up to 7.9 percent.
The BLS report indicates the number of people who have jobs in the U.S. jumped to the highest level since the last time there was a presidential election. The data show 143.38 million people are currently working, the highest number since November 2008. The report also shows that job growth has continued to rise steadily since the spring quarter, when only 67,000 jobs, on average, were added per month. In the third quarter, an average of 170,000 jobs were created every month. What's more, September employment was revised up to 148,000 from initial reports of a gain of only 114,000. August numbers, too, were revised, rising to 192,000 from 142,000.
"Overall, this report is consistent with the emerging picture of an economic recovery that is continuing to regain traction after grinding to a halt earlier this year," said Millan Mulraine, senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities.
According to the report, the professional and business services sector, which includes temporary staffing, led the way in job creation alongside the healthcare and retail sectors. Private companies contributed 100 percent of the month's job gains, adding 184,000 jobs last month. The manufacturing industry also had a stronger month, adding 13,000 new jobs after months of bleeding workers.
The government, on the other hand, saw 13,000 jobs go by the wayside.
According to the Journal, although the growth is slow, it is still enough to boost optimism in a number of industries. The Conference Board, a private research firm, announced on Thursday that its October barometer of consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since early 2008, providing a rosier outlook for the economy as a whole.