The nation's economy added a blistering 261,000 jobs in October as the job market began to recover from job loss caused by the hurricanes, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday morning. The unemployment rate edged down to 4.1 percent from 4.2 percent in September.
The numbers come as companies are increasingly scrambling for workers at the 10th anniversary of the devastating recession that gripped the nation starting in late 2007 and sent the unemployment rate soaring above 10 percent.
Wall Street reacted cautiously to the jobs report early in the day, but major indexes all closed up. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 7.99 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,587.84 after flipping between modest gains and losses. The push higher helped it clinch its longest weekly winning streak in nearly four years. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,539.19. The Nasdaq composite climbed 49.49 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,764.44.
Troy Singleton, a business services representative at CareerLink, told a gathering of employers and social service agency representatives at a panel Thursday that city businesses are recruiting for hundreds of workers. Among them are Southwark Metal Manufacturing Co. in Northeast Philadelphia, Republic Bank, and the Naval Foundry and Propeller Center at the Navy Yard.
The job market, he said, could provide opportunities to people who are often difficult to employ, such as people coming out of prison. "Sometimes they are almost scared to thrive," he said. CareerLink is the governmental entity that links employers and prospective employees.
Jobs were added in construction, manufacturing and transportation, professional and technical services, health and education, and leisure and hospitality. Even the federal "swamp" added workers, with federal employment increasing by 5,000 jobs.
The biggest job loser was retailing, which declined by 8,300 jobs in October, typically a time when retailers are ramping up. But many department store retailers are closing locations in the face of competition from Amazon and other internet sellers.
Robust hiring at car dealerships didn't do enough to offset retail losses at general merchandise, apparel and electronic stores. There was a slight increase in nonstore retailers.
Although the unemployment rate declined, the problem of long-term unemployment persists. One in four jobless remain unemployed after six months of steady looking. That rate has remained basically the same for a year. In October, 1.6 million people had been out of work for more than six months.
Disparities remain: The unemployment rate for African Americans is 7.5 percent and 4.8 percent for people of Hispanic ethnicity. The biggest losers are teenagers aged 16 to 19 who are looking for work but can't find it. The unemployment rate for them is 13.7 percent.