U.S. and Canadian Labor Statistics

November 2, 2012

U.S. labor statistics in the final report before the election were better than expected. 

  • Nonfarm payroll jobs climbed 171K in October, 46K more than consensus estimates.
  • Combined employment growth in August September was revised upward by 84K.
  • The jobless rate of 7.9% remained below the psychologically important 8.0% level.
  • The broadest measure of joblessness and underemployment ticked downward to 14.6% from 14.7% in both August and September.
  • The labor participation rate rose two-tenths to 63.8%.
  • The employment to population ratio edged a tenth percentage point higher to 58.8%.
  • The 170K three-month rate of jobs growth in August-October was 66K per month better than the pace of 104K in May-July and also compared favorably against the pace of 133K per month in August-October 2011.
  • Average hourly earnings remained weak.

The table below shows the October unemployment in prior presidential election years.  Since 1948, such averaged 5.23% in those years when the incumbent party retained the White House and exactly a half percentage point higher at 5.73% in those years when the opposition party won the presidency (designated by an asterisk).

1948 3.7% 1980* 7.9%
1952* 3.0% 1984 7.4%
1956 3.9% 1988 5.4%
1960* 6.1% 1992* 7.3%
1964 5.1% 1996 5.2%
1968* 3.4% 2000* 3.9%
1972 5.6% 2004 5.5%
1976* 7.7% 2008* 6.5%


Canadian labor statistics were modestly softer than forecast in October, but a slowdown had been anticipated after robust reports for August and September.  In those two months, jobs had climbed by 86.4K, an annualized pace of 3.0% and equivalent to a 329K per month increase in the U.S. labor market.  In October, by comparison, employment rose just 1.8K as fewer part-time workers nearly offset the increase in full-time positions.  The October total job increase was restrained by a rather large 16.2K drop in the agriculture sector and a loss of 9.3K utility workers. 

Comparing the two labor markets, Canada’s jobless rate remained at 7.4%, a half percentage point lower than America’s.  Canadian employment rose 1.3K  between October 2011 and October 2012, slightly less than the 1.5% increase in U.S. jobs over that statement year.  The U.S. jobless rate is 1.0 percentage points below the 8.9% October 2011 level, while Canada’s 7.4% rate is a tenth of a percentage point higher than a year ago.  Canada’s labor force, up 1.4% on year, has not suffered the same kind of attrition that America’s did.

Copyright 2012, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.



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