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US Economy Adds 638,000 Jobs in October, Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.9 Percent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 638,000 in October, and the unemployment rate declined to 6.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. The monthly gain exceeded expectations from economists surveyed by Dow Jones, who predicted employers to add 600,000 jobs.

The U.S. economy has added 12.1 million jobs since April, more than half of the 22.2 million jobs lost this spring.

In October, job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (271,000), professional and business services (208,000), retail trade (104,000) and construction (84,000). Employment in government contracted by 268,000, which The Wall Street Journal reports is tied to the release of temporary Census workers.

The unemployment rate dropped 100 basis points from 7.9 percent in September, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 1.5 million to 11.1 million. The unemployment rate and total number of unemployed have dropped for six consecutive months but are nearly twice their February levels, which was 3.5 percent and 5.8 million, respectively.

Additionally, the BLS found that 21.2 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic in October, down from 22.7 percent in September. This data pertains to employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last four weeks specifically because of the pandemic.

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