News / Economy

US Adds 80,000 Jobs in October, Unemployment Ticks Lower

Job Seekers line up for interviews during a job fair in San Mateo, California, September 2011. (file photo)
Job Seekers line up for interviews during a job fair in San Mateo, California, September 2011. (file photo)

The U.S. economy added 80,000 jobs in October and the nation's unemployment rate edged down one tenth of a percentage point. The government also revised employment numbers higher for August and September - an encouraging sign as unemployed Americans struggle to find footing in a difficult economy.  

U.S. unemployment is at its lowest level in six months. But at 9 percent, it is still too high for the 13.9 million Americans out of work. One woman named Judy has been unemployed for more than a year. She said it is getting harder to stay positive.

"It's just so many people out here looking, and that's what's taking so long. I'm being patient, but some of these job interviews, I'm just saying, give me the job, give me the job! But there's just so many applicants," she said.

Like many others, Judy visits this unemployment office in Virginia looking for job leads. Recently laid off, Kevin Norris understands her frustration. He holds a Master's degree and has been working since he was 13.

"The idea of not working for a living, and you know, letting somebody else help me out and letting somebody else pay my bills, just, it drives me crazy. I don't even know how to really understand it, but that's the way things appear to be at the moment," said Norris.

Despite forecasts for modest growth, analysts say companies are reluctant to hire until the economy gains traction. But Virginia Employment Commission Manager Dottie Brown urges anyone looking for work not to give up. She said unemployed workers should take advantage of the center's job readiness programs.

"So we have resume writing, we do interviewing skills, we do mock interviews, we build morale back up. You're still the same wonderful person, you're just without a job. So when they come here, that's what we do, we get them ready for their next position, so job readiness is the key," said Brown.

Others says the fault lies with partisan politics in Washington. Gene Sperling is the director of the National Economic Council at the White House. He decries inaction on Capitol Hill over the president's job's bill.

"It is long past time for all of us to realize that long term unemployment is our true national economic crisis and that choosing to play politics as usual, or sit on our hands in the face of this crisis, is both irresponsible and inexcusable," said Sperling.

President Barack Obama has proposed a $447-billion jobs package to be paid for by higher taxes on wealthy Americans. Republicans have rejected the proposals, saying higher taxes will reduce hiring.

The recession that began in December 2007 wiped out nearly 8 million jobs. Since then the U.S. economy has added only about two million jobs.

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