Employment Figures Steadily Improve but Lean Toward Part-Time Work

The U.S. Department of Labor released its latest employment figures earlier this month, showing an increase in the number of jobs added and a downward trend for unemployment claims. October posted a gain of 638,000 jobs among nonfarm payroll and after six months of steady—albeit slow—improvement, unemployment reached 6.9%. Even with those improvements, unemployment remains nearly three percentage points higher than the two-year trend set ahead of COVID-19.

Regarding glass and glazing industry-related positions, employment in wholesale trade changed little in October, while construction added 84,000 jobs, including 18,000 among specialty trade contractors serving residential. The latest additions add up to 789,000 jobs tacked onto the construction sector over the last six months. Manufacturing rose by 38,000 in October, but remains 621,000 lower than February 2020. As the job market remains constricted, among the demographics hardest hit by the pandemic remains teenagers, who register at nearly 14% unemployment.

Meanwhile, “The unemployment rate for adult women is now lower than for adult men,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said, with adult men currently measuring at 6.7%, while adult females register slightly better at 6.5%.

The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want jobs decreased by 539,000 to 6.7 million in October, but among those unemployed, the highest number (3.6 million) say they’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or more. The number reporting that they’re on temporary layoff fell by 1.4 million to 3.2 million—a far cry from the high of 18.1 million that registered in April, but still 2.4 million higher than February 2020.

Even with those improvements, surveys and job statistics indicate there are plenty of employees eager not only for jobs, but for more hours at the jobs they have. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained at 34.8 hours in October, while manufacturing increased by 0.3 hour to 40.5 hours. The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by 383,000 to 6.7 million—including individuals who had their hours reduced or were unable to find full-time jobs.

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