BLS data supports positive outlook for U.S. economy

November 5, 2012
BLS data supports positive outlook for U.S. economy

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Employment Situation report for the month of October and the new figures seem to show a strengthening U.S. economy. According to the agency’s data, nonfarm payroll employment expanded by about 171,000 jobs last month.

In addition, the job creation numbers for August and September were revised upwards, reflecting a net increase of 84,000 payroll positions that had previously been unaccounted for in the official data.

Despite these gains, the unemployment rate increased slightly, inching up from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent. However, in a way, this may represent a positive development, as it indicates that more Americans, who were previously discouraged, are now actively searching for work.

Monthly reports are less reliable than long-term trends

In an opinion piece published by the Christian Science Monitor before the BLS data was released, Robert Reich – formerly the Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton – advised the public to take the jobs report “with a grain of salt.”

“Month-to-month reports shouldn’t be taken nearly as seriously as they are,” wrote Reich. “It’s the long-term trend that counts.”

The former cabinet official went on to assert that, regardless of the specific figures reported for October, the big picture was encouraging, with consistent, if relatively slow, growth in employment throughout the year.

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