Unemployment Rate Drops to 5-Year Low of 4.4%; Service Sector Grows Faster

U.S. unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 4.4% in October as employers added 92,000 new jobs, according to the Labor Department. The report showed that the civilian unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point from 4.6% in September. The 4.4% unemployment rate was the lowest since the spring of 2001.

However the total new jobs added at 92,000 in October were the fewest in a year, well below expectations for an increase of around 125,000 positions. But job gains in both August and September turned out to be much stronger than previously estimated. Employers added 148,000 jobs in September, versus the 51,000 first reported. Payrolls grew by a robust 230,000 in August, stronger than the 188,000 slots previously recorded.

Workers saw solid wages gains last month as average hourly earnings climbed to $16.91 in October, a 0.4% increase from September. Over the last 12 months, wages grew by 3.9%. The average time that the unemployed spent in their search for work in October was 16.5 weeks, an improvement from the average 17.4 weeks registered in September.

Factories shed 39,000 jobs in October, marking the fourth straight month of employment cuts in manufacturing sector. Construction companies shed 26,000 jobs, while retailers trimmed 3,500 jobs. However professional and businesses services have added 43,000 jobs. Education and health expanded employment by 28,000, and the government payroll swelled by 34,000.

ISM Services Index:

The nation's service economy grew in October at a quicker pace than in September. The Institute for Supply Management reported that its index of business activity for the service sector registered 57.1 in October, above the September's reading of 52.9, August's reading of 57. The October figure represented the 43rd consecutive month of growth in the service sector.

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